For the advancement and inspiration of its members
PRODOS FILM STUDY GROUP
With the kind permission of Sir Martin Gilbert
Another brilliant documentary:
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WINSTON CHURCHILL (part 1)
The Maverick Politician
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Date: Monday October 24 2011
Venue: Home of Prodos & Barboo, 153 Lennox Street, Richmond. Phone: 9428 1234.
6.30 PM: Doors Open.
Food: $12 good, wholesome meals served until 7.15 PM.
7.30 PM (sharp): Commencement of Film + Chaired discussion.
Who: Only registered PRODOS Film Study Group members and guests of members allowed. You can apply to join on the night. To join you need to agree with our purpose and pay the $2 annual fee.
Policy: Leaving straight after a film and therefore skipping the discussion goes against one of the conditions upon which our permission to screen these films is based.
9.30 PM (sharp): End of meeting.
Cost: No charge. But if you’d like to make a personal donation to Prodos that’s greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Narrated by official Churchill biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, this first of a 4-part biography examines the personal qualities, the decisions and approaches taken, and the never-ever conventional thinking of young Winston as he advances through his political and military career.
His colleagues often considered him an utter failure – he tried things often and failed frequently. That’s when they weren’t finding him to be an incredible nuisance. Indeed, a bit of a trouble-maker.
What made Churchill such an extraordinary leader? And by “leader” what exactly do we mean, here?
What were his real strengths? Were they also the source of his greatest weaknesses?
What was the nature of his failures? How did he deal with them?
What most thrilled him and what bored him?
Is there a unifying theme or overriding principle that can help us understand what drove this man?
One of the most valuable features of this series of documentaries is that they do not set out to promote a particular, pre-judged view of Churchill.
Like a true scholar, Sir Martin Gilbert works hard to uncover and bring us the whole truth as well as a range of evaluations on Churchill’s endeavours and his character from the people who personally knew him.
In his own words, here is how Sir Martin approaches his work as a historian …
In my Churchill researches between 1968 and 1988 I read every page of an estimated fifteen tons weight of documentation. The material available in archives – including, particularly for Churchill, at Churchill College, Cambridge, and in the vast Public Record Office in London – is formidable and revealing – revealing of every facet of policymaking, of success and failure, of friendship and opposition, of cause and effect, of mood and motive.
In my own published work, I have avoided the word “perhaps”.
It is for the historian either to say what happened, or to say that he cannot discover it. To say, “Perhaps it was like this” is to mask a failure to get to the bottom of a problem: and failure in historical research is no crime. It is one of the hazards of the profession.
I have stressed in my work the contemporary voice, and contemporary point of view and action, wherever it can be found: in letters, diaries, documents, transcripts of meetings and conversations – even in photographs.
Dealing with a period when many eye-witnesses are alive, I have also been eager to present the voice of such eye-witnesses: some through conversations, others through correspondence. I began this in my Churchill work in 1968, and in my Holocaust work in 1978.
In every instance where I use such eye-witness testimony, I make it clear that it is the voice of an eye-witness, and that it is a recollection. Such voices bring atmosphere, perspective, point of view – and even facts (which the historian must check, but which are often facts not otherwise easy to come by).
The passage of time is not, in itself, a barrier to the uncovering of true history through the memories of individuals.
Not only do I believe that it is possible to tell a true and straight and clear tale, I also welcome any corrections and amendments and additions to what I have published.
My work has continually been enhanced by those who have written to me on matters of detail – to point out errors, or to correct lack of clarity, or to add new factual dimensions. …. No author can live in an ivory tower, free from the help and comments – and hopefully even the enthusiasm – of readers.
I welcome any contribution, on tiny matters or large. In my dictionary, the word “pedant” is a paean of praise, and “nit-picking” is a worthy art.
And now, some quotes from Winston Churchill:
… Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be made like this?
… (The) truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
… I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it’s smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can’t help it — I enjoy every second of it. (referring to WWI)
… Lenin was sent into Russia by the Germans in the same way that you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city, and it worked with amazing accuracy.
… Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
… You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
… Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, ‘it is the quality which guarantees all others.’
… I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.
… Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.
… For myself, I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
… We are all worms. But I do believe I am a glow-worm.
… An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last.
In my view, everything about Churchill makes sense. The humorous and the heroic. His adventures and his blunders. His courage and his antics. His plotting and his showing off. There’s no unfathomable complexity about any of it. There’s no spooky mystery.
Join us on Monday night as we study and celebrate one of the finest examples of intelligence, courage and independence of mind in history.