Reviewed by: Samuel A. Torcasio
Having the COURAGE to stand firm and do what you know is RIGHT, despite great opposition—even from friends and allies.
Dealing with extreme stress and pressure
Discuss Churchill’s vision and voice as a leader and his ability to assess what mattered—to tune out the noise—understanding the threat and the bigger—much bigger—picture.
“Words can, and do, change the world. This is precisely what happened through Winston Churchill in 1940. He was under intense political and personal pressure, yet he was spurred to such heights in so few days—over and over again.” —screenwriter and producer Anthony McCarten
“In dark days and darker nights, when Britain stood alone, and most men save Englishmen despaired of England’s life, he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. The incandescent quality of his words illuminated the courage of his countrymen.” —President John F. Kennedy, 1963
“This story is anchored in the past yet it resonates all the way into the here and now. Too often today, our ‘leaders’ are followers. These decisions made in less than one month’s time had global ramifications.”
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
War in the Bible
Gary Oldman … Winston Churchill
Kristin Scott Thomas … Clementine Churchill —Winston’s wife
Lily James … Elizabeth Layton—Churchill’s personal secretary
Ben Mendelsohn… King George VI
Stephen Dillane … Viscount Halifax
Samuel West … Sir Anthony Eden
Hannah Steele … Abigail Walker
Ronald Pickup … Neville Chamberlain—whom Churchill succeeded as Prime Minister
Richard Lumsden … General Ismay
Jordan Waller … Randolph Churchill
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|Director:||Joe Wright—“Atonement” (2007), “Hanna” (2011), “Pride and Prejudice” (2005), “Anna Karenina” (2012)
Screenplay: Anthony McCarten—“The Theory of Everything”
|Producer:||Working Title Films
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“You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth!”
During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds. This film was a passion project for Screenwriter Anthony McCarten—“The Theory of Everything.”
Gary Oldman is brilliant as Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain during World War II. Oldman is already known to be a great and versatile actor, but in this film, he stretches his ability even further. One has a hard time remembering that it is him, and not Winston Churchill himself! It helped that he looked the part and either gained considerable weight for the role, or it was nicely manufactured by the costume designer. And generally-speaking the make up artistry, and costume and set designs for this film are excellent. The cinematography is visually superb and emotionally moving. The soundtrack is right on. This is a very well-done period piece.
There is not a lot of action in this film. It focuses more on the policies of Winston Churchill and the debates that he had with those in his cabinet. For those who love politics and history, this is an absolute must see.
Without getting into too much detail, the parallels between the opposition that Winston Churchill faced from both within his own government and outside it and the political situation in America today are astounding. Churchill worked at uniting the different British parties, and he was criticized for being “a conservative who flocks to the liberals… and then flocks to the conservatives again.” There are many other points of parallel too.
Now, how much of that is the filmmakers’ intention, we will leave to the historians and movie critics to debate. Nonetheless, this movie has a message for the modern world. And it cannot be denied that, despite whatever faults and drawbacks he had, Winston Churchill was a courageous man. And were it not that he stood so boldly against Nazi Germany and for the cause of freedom, the world may indeed be a different place today. God in His Sovereign purposes raised this man up for such a time. Churchill refused to compromise with evil because indeed “you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth”.
Churchill was a great orator and an inspiring speaker. The movie highlights many notable and powerful quotes such as the one above.
This film definitely has a theme of courage, as noted above. Churchill was an ambitious man. He states that his policy is to “wage war” and his aim is “victory at all costs.” Some in his Parliament make him out to be a warmonger who does not want peace, but Churchill’s policy was so strong because the evil that they faced was so strong. We must know that there is such a thing as a good and just war. In the Old Testament period, God commanded Israel to go to war with pagan nations who committed atrocious acts. God wanted many of them wiped out because they were so evil.
In the New Testament era we live in, things are different indeed. Christ’s church is not a geopolitical theocracy, and we are not given a direct command to go to war. The church’s mission from God is to preach the gospel and make disciples. God has, however, ordained and allowed government to exist for the purpose of maintaining order in the world. Christians may be involved with the government, and governments can certainly have a relationship with the church, but they are distinct institutions.
Governments today also do not have direct revelation from God of when to go to war, as Old Testament Israel did in their day. Nonetheless, just wars still exist. Ideally, a government is seeking to go by the principles of Scripture in determining if it needs to go to war. Is it facing an insurmountable and irrational evil? Or can peace be made? What will be the cost? These are the questions that need to asked, along with much prayer.
When it came to the evil of Nazi Germany in World War II, there is absolutely no doubt that Hitler and his regime were a vicious and tyrannical evil. Churchill was right to not compromise with that tiger. It’s like trying to compromise with the Devil. Satan is not interested in being fair or keeping his side of the bargain; when the opportunity comes, he will strike you down. So, it is with those that follow him.
Churchill held on long enough until eventually the Americans did join the war effort, and the Nazis were defeated and World War II was over. We have not had a world war since. We should be so thankful to God for this. Yet, as we all know, the world is far from at peace in our day. Let us pray that governments will be just and do the right thing. That they will fight evil and protect the innocent. And let us as Christians use the freedom we have to Ma share and live the gospel of Christ before our world that is dying, while there is still time.
Stumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? The Effective Evangelism section of our site assists Christians in effectively reaching out to others with love and truth. Learn about the worldview of the people you meet, ways to share the gospel, read stories submitted by site users, and more.
Churchill had a genuine concern for the people of England, but there are moments where he lies to protect them from being fearful. The King of England reprimands him on this, saying that “the public needs to be led, not misled”.
This movie also touches on the brevity of life and the frailty of man. It is when all hope seems lost that Churchill considered coming to a peace negotiation with Adolf Hitler. But it was talks that he had with the common citizens of England that drove him to not make such a deal. Churchill proclaims that all men will eventually die, and there is no better way for a man to die than to face fearful odds. In essence, it is the acknowledgment that life is short that causes man to think about what his life is really all about and what is worth fighting for. Why would England surrender to the evil Nazi’s only to die later under their tyrannical control? Isn’t it much more noble to die fighting for a just cause? For freedom? This is the conclusion England came to under Churchill’s leadership. They would “never surrender” to the evil Nazis!
As Christians, we should always have the brevity of life before us. This will help us to make wise decisions and avoid compromise. But let’s even add to that the amazing truth we have in the gospel of eternal life! So, not only do we know that this life is short, but that Christ has promised us eternal life for following Him! What a motivation to do the right thing, no matter the cost.
Winston Churchill was one of the few that stood against Nazi Germany when the rest of the world was in full retreat. He did this even though he did not have the military capability to challenge them. Evil has always opposed moral uprightness in society through liberalism and compromise of ethical principle. Only those that have the right convictions and beliefs can stand against evil and for truth and freedom.
There are different theories and arguments regarding Churchill’s personal belief in God. It is not the purpose of this review to get into that debate. We will note, however, that there are reasonable arguments that he had many tenets of the biblical worldview and that it affected his policies. It is also worth pointing out that even unbelievers are made in the image of God, and that they, too, are able to understand certain core principles which can lead them to doing a just action.
Furthermore, those of us who are Christian believers are being renewed in the image of Christ every day. God our Father has given us the Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us in all decision making. As we interact with the political situation and problems of our day, let us do so in such a way that puts the grace, love, and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ on display. We must stand against error and evil, but we must also love our enemies. This is not always an easy task, but God will provide us with the proper wisdom, if we ask Him for it (James 1:5).
Words of concern include: “Good God,” “Oh devil”, “Drunkard at the wheel,” “d*mn you,” a reference to sh*t, and several uses of the British “bugger.” Churchill makes a hand gesture which is later revealed to mean “Up your bum,” which he uses several more times. There are also some scenes of war. Churchill and others smoke during the film.
Churchill sarcastically refers to Halifax Rev. “Holy Fox.” Churchill after coming out of the shower warns his secretary that “I am coming out in a stage of nature.” Churchill is asked, “How do you manage drinking during the day?”, and he answers “practice.” One character is interrupted and lies by saying he was reading the Bible.
Overall, this film is enjoyable, enriching, educational, and inspiring. I only wish it was in more theaters. The content and discussion in this movie is definitely heavy; it is for the more mature. But, except for a few parts, the language and content are fairly clean and appropriate. This is a great period piece to see, and it deals with a very important time in world history. Go see it, and when your kids are old enough to understand show it to them.
Editor’s Note: Ultimately, it was God that saved the world from the Nazis. For details about how God miraculously moved during the pivotal events at Dunkirk following widespread prayer and repentance of sin in Britain—see our comments titled “Behind Dunkirk’s evacuation—repentance and divine mercy” in our review of DUNKIRK (2017).
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.