Based on Sir Winston Churchill’s biographical writings of his ancestor John Churchill and his wife Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, The First Churchill’s is a magnificent vision of 17th Century life.
Jon Churchill is a war strategist as well as a leader of men. He’s never lost a battle, but despite his mind for war he is a man of certain high moral character who see’s the hypocrisy of the battles he embarks in as the unjustified achievement of mettle by men who have never pointed a rifle or stood face to face with the enemy. A disposition that will lead him to trouble.
Churchill’s professional life keeps him close to the ever shifting power crowd of the era- Kings, Queens, high ranking military men and politicians. It is a dangerous time to be someone of use, especially when everyone wants you for their own selfish needs, and not a great time for a man of war to fall smitten with a woman. The series travels through the Churchill’s love story and trying times during dark days of political and religious unrest, the two creating chaos as they collide, and provides a very in-depth look at the world in which the titular characters lived.
I attribute the quality of this show to say, Poldark, maybe not as overly corny in the acting category or overdramatic, but the feel of the set is the same, as well as the way in which everything takes place mostly in confined places. While we do see instances of Churchill on the battlefield, the scope of the battles are off camera with explosions happening the general vicinity of where the scene is shot. Most of the action; political, religious, and romantic backstabbing, takes place in the interior scenes of say a castle or a house.
Video quality, if you’ve ever seen or owned a dated release of this type before, is kind of shoddy. You’re getting the source material, more then likely as you would have seen it on the small screen back when it aired in the late 60’s. You get strange flickerings going on in the background, poor definition quality (as compared to even yesteryears remastered releases), and basic audio. Despite it all it’s hard to hamper the magnificence of The First Churchill’s fantastic performances all around. The actors and actresses are so immersed in their characters that they create the world around them. Any flaws (as reported on the back of the DVD case) are moot when you are completely captured by the chemistry of Susan Hampshire and John Neville’s performances, as with the rest of the cast. Romantic, intriguing, and suspenseful. Well worth checking out.
Exclusive interview with Susan Hampshire (19 minutes); photo gallery, and 10-page insert with a sampling of the Churchill’s real love letters, glossary of historical figures and terms, and House of Stuart family tree.