I really enjoyed HBO’s recent airing of “Into the Storm” and will watch it a million times. However, it has serious flaws and I don’t think it’s on the same caliber as it’s predecessor “The Gathering Storm.”
The film, made in partnership between HBO and BBC Films is pretty much a direct sequel to “The Gathering Storm which aired several years ago. “Gathering” was all about the events leading up to World War 2 and Churchill’s warnings of an ascendant Hitler. But it wasn’t just about that – it was about Churchill the man and his relationship with his wife – whom he loved very much. And that’s the strength of “The Gathering Storm.”
The writer of “Into the Storm” (who was the same as the other one) seems to have forgotten about all that and decided to focus on the broad strokes of history. I’ve been salivating over the idea of a movie that focused on Britain during World War II. There aren’t that many these days as most films focus on American involvement, often ignoring the fact that the Brits stood alone for almost 4 years.
I think the biggest failure of this movie is that it was not longer. There was so much story to tell, so many events that were skipped over that I think it’s lacking. I think the characterization of Winston Churchill was good – however, I don’t think Brenden Gleeson was a very convincing Churchill. You could hear the actor’s Irish accent invading his acting and it was distracting. I really believe that Albert Finney played a better Churchill. The most maddening thing was the terrible lighting inflicted upon Brenden Gleeson – his really bad makeup on his fake bald head really stood out – creating a distraction that took away from the story.
One aspect of the movie I did like was how the relationship between Churchill and the King was portrayed. I really enjoyed those bits of the movie – even if it seemed a little tedious watching Brenden Gleeson make the trip up the stairs at Buckingham Palace a half a dozen times. The set design was nice, the scenes of World War II London were nice. I really liked the look behind closed doors of British Politics during the war.
The pacing of the film just seemed off. They chose to tell the story in a non-linear fashion that I don’t really think worked as the scenes in Post War France just didn’t seem to have a point other than to show Winston grumbling at his wife and servants.
One thing that I really think they have included at the end was a post script letting viewers know that Churchill was actually Prime Minister again. His defeat to Attlee was not the end of his political career.
Another aspect that bothered me was the inclusion of a lot of material related to the Americans and Franklin Roosevelt. It just seemed forced into the movie, especially the scenes that Churchill wasn’t actually in. I suspect this material was inserted to appeal to American audiences whom would not have appreciated a solely British Perspective. While the relationship between FDR and Churchill is portrayed as rosy – history shows that they weren’t exactly best friends.
I did enjoy how they portrayed the tortuous toll the war took on Churchill – especially when it came to traveling to the various conferences, a process that meant travel by unheated plane for many days at a time.
Now, I know I am being harsh on the movie. I still enjoyed it greatly and I suspect I will be watching it many more times. One of my favorite World War II era movies is “The End of the Affair” – it shows what life was like for normal people during the blitz.
Does anyone else have recommendations for movies about Britain during World War II?
Into the Storm Earns 3 out 5 Union Jacks for a weak plot that focuses on the broad strokes of history, but is still a very adequate and enjoyable movie.
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