War and entertainment
I missed the Emmys and Little Dorrit's triumph, but I've finally seen Into the Storm which won Brendan Gleeson best actor in a miniseries or movie for his role as Winston Churchill. Ridley Scott and Tony Scott were the producers. Thaddeus O' Sullivan was the director. And I was the unhappy viewer.
Gleeson is terrific as Churchill.
But I didn't like the back and forth scenes between the Second World War and the days after the war, when Winston waits to learn whether the British people will give him the boot, as he charmingly remarks to George VI when declining his gift of the Garter.
Winston is vacationing in a friend's French villa and quarreling with his wife Clementine. They did argue, but in letters to each other and in biographies describing their marriage it's passionately clear that they adored each other. Clementine could be "a jaguar" in Winston's defence (Winston's words).
Losing sight of a great love story is one thing. Losing sight of a great war is another.
I guess the people who grew up in the shadow of the Second World War assume everyone knows how evil the Nazis were. Many people today don't, and the miniseries never makes it evident. I have even seen a fool's history that suggests Britain should have made peace with the Nazis.
The bombing of Dresden is part of the miniseries story, but it is never revealed that both US President Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill made the decision to bomb Germany after the Nazi German bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam, the Nazi blitz against London, the destruction of Coventry, the onslaughts against France and Russia and the refusal of the Germans to surrender unconditionally.
Nor is it explained that Dresden "ranked high among the Reich's wartime industrial centers" with more than a hundred factories producing torpedoes and machine guns.
Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels created the first lies about Dresden, grossly inflating casualties, and they have persisted.
It's true that Churchill , who always wanted to be in the thick of battle, hated the loss of life and ruin that occurred in war. The film suggests this.
Covering the world, the Second World War is too great a conflict to be evoked by the inadequate images of Into the Storm. But Churchill, freed by having lost the election, and needing, as usual, money to pay his bills, went back to his study and dictated one of the great histories. His Second World Warcontains fascinating details and the sweep of a huge canvas on every page.