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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  • Audio commentary
  • 9 Cast/crew biographies

The Gathering Storm

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . M15+ . PAL


Well, history paints many portraits of Winston Churchill. We can choose what we wish to believe for ourselves, as is our right. Here he is portrayed brilliantly by Albert Finney who becomes unrecognisable at times, so effortlessly does he slip into Churchill’s coat. He portrays a man troubled by his depressive episodes and a man who doesn’t have time to be polite, yet somehow manages to be loved for what he is. He portrays a man deeply in love with his wife and a man who finds time to be a father to his four children.

Mostly, he just portrays a brilliant, great man getting the job done, regardless of how grisly it gets.

The film details the story of Churchill spiraling the drain of parliament in his ‘evening years’ and his still firm understanding of world events that his colleagues refuse to accept. As he haggles with parliament for years on end regarding the foreboding nature of Germany’s hidden re-armament, he is treated as a foolish old man harassing a country that couldn’t possibly have the reserves it is accumulating.

Enlisting the help of secret documents leaked to him from a nervous sympathiser, Churchill puts together the facts of Germany’s growing war machine and spills it to the public, finally alerting the nation that Germany is not following the Treaty of Versailles as it should. Naturally, we all know what happens in the end, but the film still swells with the ‘gathering storm’ of the title throughout. The slow-growing tension can be felt breeding beneath the ordinary scenes of daily English life and this drives the film toward its climax in superlative fashion.

Screenwriter Hugh Whitemore won himself an Emmy for his screenplay here, as did Albert Finney in the role of Churchill. The film itself garnered one other Emmy for Outstanding Movie and deservedly so. It’s a brilliant historical document with fabulous attention to detail and every performance convincingly portrayed by an accomplished cast of English stalwarts. Churchill’s flaws aren’t skirted around either, but rather reveled in. He is a busy, self-centred man who drinks far too much and eats too well, is burning through his fortune at alarming speed, yet is a human being. And he is one who can face truths others won’t dare face and ‘keep buggering on’ as he so eloquently puts it, regardless of whose delicate toes get stepped on.


From the opening sequence set amongst the leaf litter of an English autumn, the picture quality impresses. Colours are sharp and clear with blacks being true to life and the shadow detail delivered cleanly. There are trace moments of the faintest grain in interior darks, but these are easily overlooked, if not missed altogether. Flesh tones are authentically pallid (good old England) and overall the transfer quality is superb. This truly brings to life pre World War II England with incredible authenticity and looks simply sensational.


Delivered in responsible Dolby Digital 5.1, the dialogue is clear and always easily understood, if not the content. Albert Finney’s Churchill sounds uncannily like the man himself and the Emmy was certainly well earned. What little sound effects are used sound fine, however the music is what really binds the film together so nicely. This is truly perfect for the film, filled with ominous foreboding and orchestral dramatics. The subwoofer gently accompanies the music lending a faraway threat to the ordinariness of English life.


Only a couple, but these are fairly valuable in themselves.

First of all is the audio commentary by director Richard Loncraine and producer Frank Doelger. This is pretty interesting as they speak with obvious fondness for Churchill, and grant us some of the usual information about the making of this film. Quite good, but about average as for as commentaries go.

Lastly, we have cast and crew biographies. There are seven of these for the major cast as well as the director and screenwriter. They're interesting and indepth for a lot of the cast and they include selected filmographies.


I was dubious as to how well I would enjoy this film, but that was certainly allayed by the first 20 minutes. This is a fascinating story on a world-shaping man which doesn’t sensationalise the war, but rather reflects on a very human man devoting his life to the preservation of his beloved country.

Finney’s performance is brilliant, as are the supporting cast, but the film belongs to he and Churchill.

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      And I quote...
    "The story of Churchill’s rise to power as a counterweight to Hitler is executed brilliantly here in a magnificent transfer."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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