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Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny

With a title like Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Richard Trank’s documentary is shamelessly hagiographic. Whether offering rousing platitudes (“The vital importance of Winston Churchill was that he kept the flag of freedom flying”), or displaying an astonishing ability to tie every admirable quality of the British people back to Churchill, Walking With Destiny goes for broke on a totally unnecessary argument for Churchill as one of the 20th Century’s Great Men.  What is surprising, and disappointing, given the film’s origins – it was produced by Moriah Films, the film division of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a museum with a major focus on Holocaust history – is how little commitment Destiny has to exploring Churchill’s relationship with the Jewish faith, which is touched on only briefly in an early description of Churchill’s experiences with British Jews during his formative years, and returned to in a late inning mention of Churchill’s Zionist convictions. More troubling is its lack of moral rigor:  the death of those on the right side is treated with the utmost austerity, while footage of retaliatory bombings of civilian spaces in Berlin gets an especially triumphant swell of the strings in Lee Holdridge’s portentous score.  Scripted by Trank with Rabbi Marvin Hier, this is more written than directed, Trank’s mostly archival images never doing more than dutifully illustrating Ben Kingsley’s sufficiently reverential voiceover. (Music Hall)