Shortly thereafter, a small Wehrmacht platoon arrives in the pastoral countryside and sets up an outpost in the valley to root out the resistance. And when the severe winter forces them to cooperate with the locals, Sarah befriends the commanding officer, Albrecht (Wlaschiha), and the lines between collaboration, duty, occupation and survival are put to the test. Called “a beautiful, elliptical war film with the haunting qualities of a ghost story” by Empire Magazine, Resistance was nominated for the prestigious Cinevision Award at the Berlin Film Festival and a BAFTA Cymru Winner for Best Actress (Sharon Morgan).
We all have secrets . . . but Winston Churchill, perhaps he greatest statesman of the twentieth century, kept one in his most difficult hour: a debilitating stroke which he seeks to hide from the world. The fascinating story in told in PBS Distribution’s Masterpiece: Churchill’s Secret, arriving on DVD on September 13.
Based on a true incident in the life of Winston Churchill and directed by three-time Emmy nominee Charles Sturridge, Churchill’s Secret is an adaptation of Jonathan Smith’s acclaimed 2015 novel, The Churchill Secret: KBO, which was hailed as “delightful, funny, heart-warming” by The Mail on Sunday (London) and praised for its “elegance and wit” by The New Statesman (London). “KBO” in the book’s title stands for Churchill’s favorite advice in the face of adversity: “keep buggering on.”
Churchill stars Michael Gambon, in one of those performances that deserves awards. The action opens in the summer of 1953. Churchill, 78, is prime minister for the second time and as pugnacious as ever—until he is felled by a severe stroke while hosting a state dinner at 10 Downing Street. Lady Churchill (played by Lindsay Duncan) manages to conceal the seriousness of her husband’s sudden incapacity, while he is evaluated by his personal physician, Lord Moran (played Bill Paterson), and later transported in worsening condition to his country home, Chartwell.
Summoned to care for the apparently dying prime minister is a remarkable young nurse, Millie Appleyard (Romola Garai), who treats the world’s most famous man as she would any other difficult patient: with compassion, firmness, and occasional indulgence. In the weeks that follow, the two bond over the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley, whose celebrated poem, Invictus (Latin for “unconquered”), helps inspire Churchill to relearn to speak, stand and walk.
He is also determined to hold onto the reins of power, and the program tells the astonishing story of a bedridden, incapacitated leader who plots to outwit the high government officials who are maneuvering to replace him. Chief among these is Anthony Eden (Alex Jennings), Churchill’s right-hand man and designated successor.
Then there is Churchill’s family, of whom Lord Moran observes, “There’s a price to pay for greatness, but the great seldom pay it themselves.” Those who paid were Churchill’s children, who grew up in the permanent shadow of their exuberant and ambitious father. When Diana, Randolph, Sarah and Mary arrive at Chartwell to comfort their stricken parent, all except Mary fall to bickering and boozing—hardly an environment conducive to convalescence.
Through it all, Lady Churchill tries to keep the family peace and above all save some portion of her husband’s declining years for herself—far away from the demands of war and politics. As for Winston, a strange vision and a hit song haunt him from the early ’20s: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” What could it mean?