The Politics of War
As Hitler and his army continue to invade countries across Europe Winston Churchill (Bob Hoskins), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (John Lithgow) and Joseph Stalin (Michael Caine) along with their right hand men talk, negotiate and plan how to stop Hitler in his tracks. For Roosevelt the decision to enter the war weighed heavy whilst for Churchill it was a scrap he was in and was going to go down fighting if it came to it.
When ever I review one of these two part TV mini-series which can be watched in one go I feel like I should write quite a bit because we are talking in this case over 3 hours of entertainment. But when it comes to "Then There Were Giants" which is also known as "World War II: When Lions Roared" it would be fruitless to write a lot as this is a very unique drama that focuses on 3 leaders during WWII and the communications they had with each other whilst highlighting their own situations.
So with that in mind let me say right now that "Then There Were Giants" has the feel of a stage play with 3 characters in predominantly 3 locations who talk to each other and themselves. And that admittedly is not going to be everybody's cup of tea especially when this production comes in at a whopping 194 minutes. In my book it is very much a movie for the theatre going fans who will enjoy the production style which when not focussing on these characters talking interweaves archive footage of the war.
It means that "Then There Were Giants" is a movie of dialogue and as it has to be said that the casting is interesting. John Lithgow really does a fantastic job of getting into character as Roosevelt and is for the most convincing whilst Bob Hoskins' performance as Churchill has its moments although at times Hoskins mannerisms and voice becomes Hoskins rather than Churchill. And then there is Michael Caine as Joseph Stalin and whilst visually Caine is not bad when it comes to the voice and everything else well it wasn't for me. Rather amusingly whilst the focus of "Then There Were Giants" is on the three leaders the performance from Ed Begley Jr. as the go between especially during the early scenes over shadows the main casts performances.
But here is the thing about "Then There Were Giants" you need to have an understanding of the politics of WWII or be studying them when watching this TV movie. Whilst it is possible to watch and understand what is going on with only slight knowledge it does become a bit arduous after a while.
What this all boils down to is that "Then There Were Giants" is an impressive production with clever staging to make it feel like you are watching a stage play but with an extra dynamic which stops it from being stilted. But it is a movie whose appeal is really to those who are studying WWII or who already have knowledge of the politics of the war.