Sargad segerherre på film. Churchill-berättelser på 2000-talet


  • Erik Hedling


Wounded victor on film. Churchill stories in the 2000s.

This paper deals with two American-British co-productions, so called biopic films, on the life of Winston Churchill. One of them, The Gathering Storm (2002), deals with Churchill’s life in the 1930s, the so called Wilderness Years, when Churchill was out of the government, but started to raise warnings against Nazi Germany in Parliament. The other, Into the Storm (2009) deals with the war years, 1940–45, when Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Both of the films star histrionic British and Irish actors, respectively Albert Finney and Brendan Gleeson, in the role of the decisively larger than life British leader. Even if both films generally boost Churchill’s ”great man” qualities, they also stress other aspects. In the first film, the appeasing British government, Churchill’s opponents, primarily prime minister Stanley Baldwin, is depicted as a sympathetic man, characterized by his deeply felt humanist principles and strong insistence on peace, as opposed to earlier negative depictions in popular culture, where he is often a weak-minded victim of Hitler’s power schemes. In the second film, successful British ventures during the war, like the Battle of El-Alamein and the struggle for the Atlantic, are consciously down played in order to show that Britain’s role in the war was subordinated to the ones played by the superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union. Drawing on modern research on Churchill as well as on his own war memoir, the films are shown to establish a modern understanding of Churchill well founded in the annals of current historiography.