Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny -- Film Review

Informative if selective documentary will eventually find its natural home on the History Channel.

Despite its title, "Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny" is not a comprehensive biography of the famed British prime minister. Rather, it concentrates on the years 1940-1941, when Churchill was leading his country against Hitler’s Nazi forces during a tumultuous period that encompassed such pivotal events as the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Dunkirk and the Blitz. If there’s also on emphasis on his role in alerting the world to the mass slaughter of Jews -- it includes a rare recording of a 1941 BBC broadcast in which he discusses the issue -- that’s because the film comes from the auspices of Moriah Films, a division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Directed and co-written (with Rabbi Marvin Hier) by Richard Trask, the film, currently in theatrical release, will find its biggest audience via cable television and DVD exposure.

Extensive archival footage, along with suitably sonorous narration by Ben Kingsley, document Churchill’s steadfast resolve in inspiring the British people and marshalling U.S. support. Naturally, there are plenty of audio clips of his stirring speeches, which have lost none of their power in the 70 years since he delivered them.

Although there is commentary by figures including his great-grandchildren, several biographers and historians, and even 96-year-old singer Vera Lynn (who describes singing the classic “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” even while an air raid was in progress), don’t look for much in the way of criticism. This is strictly a hagiographic, admiring portrait, albeit one that is understandable considering its subject’s strong efforts to expose the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Production companies: Moriah Films
Director: Richard Trask
Screenwriters/producers: Richard Trask, Marvin Hier
Director of photography: Jeff Victor
Editor: Nimrod Erez
Music: Lee Holdridge
Not rated, 101 min.