When Gretchen Rubin started to work on her biography on Winston Churchill, she first read extensively everything that was available. Every biographer would do the same, especially when the person he wants to write about is already dead and the possibility for an interview non-existent.
This isn’t really remarkable as such, remarkable is what she came up with after having read so much about Churchill. She realized she couldn’t write the type of biography you would normally write and decided to call her book 4o Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life instead. In her book she names 40 elements of Churchill’s life and has a look at them. She also shows contradictions in naming Churchill’s positive aspects in one chapter followed by the negative ones in the next. For every character trait one biographer came up with, another one named the exact opposite. If you want to really understand Churchill and the range of his complexity you have to take into account all the contradictions as well. Rubin doesn’t say her approach is a definite one (although she used the same approach again in her biography of Kennedy) but it is certainly clever and thought-provoking.
The Biopic The Gathering Storm goes a completely different way. It shows Churchill just before WWII, during a very difficult period in his life and focuses on his depression and his marriage. We see a very private Churchill, one that not many got to see. I enjoyed The Gathering Storm a lot but I know it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. The two actors Vanessa Redgrave and Albert Finney are fantastic. The title of the movie is taken from Churchill’s book on WWII called The Gathering Storm.
If you like great acting, are interested in the private side of one of history’s most important men, enjoy character portraits and biopics and a beautifully filmed movie, then you shouldn’t miss this.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find a trailer so I posted part one of the movie here. You will notice that Ridley Scott was one of the executive producers.