(1972)2.5Mike CummingsWinston Churchill grows up in this award-winning 1972 David Attenborough film featuring guns, oratory, and family discord. Based on Churchill's memoirs, the motion picture toggles between the triumphs and failures of Churchill as a soldier, son, student, and citizen. As a boy, Winston is a disappointing idler in the eyes of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, and his teachers at Harrow. But the film is ambiguous in imputing blame for Winston's faults. On the one hand, Lord Randolph neglects and at times tyrannizes Winston at home; on the other, his teachers at Harrow maltreat and dispirit him. The film is clear on one point, though: After graduating high in his class from Sandhurst, young Winston is a glory-seeker while serving as a military officer and war correspondent in India, the Sudan, and South Africa. Always thinking ahead to a career in politics, he braves enemy fire time and again to earn medals and the adulation of newspaper readers. Simon Ward is superb as the young adult Churchill, doubling as actor and narrator and effectively mimicking Churchill's quirks and resounding oratory after winning electing to Parliament. Remarkably, Russell Lewis, who portrays Churchill as a boy, is the mirror image of Ward -- and he also performs with distinction. The rest of the cast also performs brilliantly: Robert Shaw as the august Lord Randolph, who becomes leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer at age 37, then contracts a debilitating illness; Anne Bancroft as Churchill's doting but ineffectual American mother, Jenny; John Mills as Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, conqueror of the Sudan; and Robert Hardy as the stern Harrow headmaster. Some of Britain's best actors appear briefly in minor roles, including Anthony Hopkins, Nigel Hawthorne, Ian Holm, and Laurence Naismith. All in all, Young Winston is a wonderful motion picture, featuring well staged battle scenes -- familial as well as military -- and a daring escape by Winston during the Boer uprising in South Africa. History teachers will find the film an excellent medium for introducing their students to one of the 20th century's most esteemed and colorful leaders.