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In fact it’s neither, for, as Churchill turns to his wife Clementine (a rather good Miranda Richardson), muttering about ‘beaches always bring it back’ and ‘30 years ago’, we realise that Churchill is remembering Gallipoli, the disastrous attempt to open a second front during the First World War with an amphibious landing on what was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
Heavily backed by Churchill – then First Lord of the Admiralty – the campaign was a total failure, costing the lives of more than 56,000 Allied troops, including more than 8,700 Australians and 2,700 New Zealanders.
But here, in the days immediately before D-Day, he is depicted as a drunken bully, haunted by his past and out of touch with modern warfare.
More than anything, he is portrayed as a dangerous irritant, whose intransigence and interference could ruin everything.
But you might also expect more of a fuss if the film’s starting point wasn’t quite so interesting.
I’ll leave it to real historians to separate fact from fiction, but for all its provocations – and von Tunzelmann admits she has manipulated some events – this is certainly a film that gets you thinking.
Richard Durden is splendid as Churchill’s trusted friend and War Cabinet colleague Jan Smuts, who wisely tells Churchill: ‘Sometimes you have to accept that you can’t lead everything from the front.’ This, however, is a film that never quite convinces.
Thousands of men would indeed die that day; only this time not in one of those rare films with a screenplay that’s been polished till it shines.The key scene comes right at the beginning as we see Churchill standing on a lonely beach, staring forlornly as the waves turn blood-red before his eyes.It’s a disorientating start – is this a dream or is this Churchill as an old man remembering the 4,400 men who died on that windy June day in 1944?The Roundup will be launched tomorrow evening with a live broadcast on 2MIA FM from the venue, the Leeton Jockey Club on Racecourse Road.Always held on the weekend before the Melbourne Cup, the Leeton Country Roundup was founded in 2005.
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A frustrated mathematician herself – she gave up the subject to have children – Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) wants Mary to come and live with her in Boston and go straight to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.