Auditorium - DAMSLab > 17:15


John Fleet
Introduced by

John Fleet


Saturday 29/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

During Churchill’s “wilderness years” in the 1930s, he was employed by the film producer Alexander Korda as a screenwriter and historical advisor. This film reveals how Churchill’s lifelong passion for cinema and storytelling influenced his approach to politics and crucially his wartime strategy. Churchill played a vital role in one of the most defining dramas of the 20th century, the Second World War, and his actions have been immortalised on screen many times since. By delving into his imagination, this documentary reveals what really inspired him during these difficult times and shows how his connection with an Hungarian-born, British film producer helped to change the course of history.
I read widely about the period too and watched a great many films. The greatest surprise was to discover the extent to which Churchill was obsessed with storytelling. His whole life seems to have been characterised by a fascination with history and trying to fashion it into a meaningful story. He wrote many historical biographies and won the Nobel Prize in Literature, even though he had hoped it would be the peace prize. That all fed into his love of cinema.
I was surprised too at how Korda defied almost all the clichés of the movie mogul, except perhaps for the cigars. Most of the other moguls appear to have been tyrants who showed little interest in the world beyond west-coast America.
Korda is described as a sensitive, worldly man, endlessly interested in other people’s problems. Churchill said that he was “the only honourable man in the world of film”, which I can understand.
Almost all of more than a thousand books about Churchill have neglected his relationship with Korda. This is understandable as there is a lot to cover, but they missed a trick, I think. After all, it was his talent for storytelling and his larger-than-life persona that enabled him to rally people in the war. In addition, films played a vital role in waking America up to the need to aid Europe, and Korda’s cinema is central to that.

John Fleet, Alexander Korda and Winston Churchill: how the producer and the politician changed British cinema, interview by Josephine Botting,, 20 December 2018

Cast and Credits

F.: Colin Clarke. Mus.: Michael J. McEvoy. Int.: Charles Barr, Charles Drazin, Stephen Fry, David Lough, Jonathan Rose, David Thomson, Lady Jane Williams. Prod.: January Pictures. DCP. D.: 62’. Col.