I first saw this masterpiece at the Odeon (Marketplace), Leicester upon its release in 1972. In addition to an absolute tour-de-force from Simon Ward, it features magnificent performances from Robert Shaw and Anne Bancroft. The film's narrative extends from the great man's first experience of school in the 1880s until the inception of his parliamentary career in 1900. This said, it presents the passing of time in a way that allows us to appreciate Churchill's early life in the light of his later glories and there is a continual interplay with the viewer's intellect. Amongst Richard Attenborough's superb biopics, this one stands very proudly indeed. The five star rating I award for the film's remarkable achievement.....but sadly, not for this DVD edition. The 2006 version with the white cover is NOT the special edition. It omits a short sequence from Churchill's POW escape scene and inexplicably leaves out the original film's final scene - the one in which Churchill falls asleep one afternoon late in life and dreams of a conversation with his long deceased father. I cannot for the life of me understand why these cuts were made and I now realise that this version is the one that is aired on TV from time to time. Accordingly, I have just ordered the German 'Special Edition' from 2007. You can easily recognise it - the case has an extensive black border and the film, an extended running time. That one is definitely the one to go for - and having visited the truly awe inspiring Blenheim Palace just a few days ago, I cannot wait for it to arrive!
AMENDMENT - This review was originally written in May 2009. I regret to say that it has since been pointed out to me that the German (with the black cover cover and bearing the title 'Der Junge Lowe') and the British (with the white cover)editions are in fact, identical. Both therefore omit the the afforementioned scenes. I sincerely apologise to anyone who has been in anyway misled by what I wrote. I would just add that I think that it should be the responsibilty of the distribution companies (in this case, Sony) to make clear to potential purchasers when a film is being sold in an edited form. Whilst it is perfectly possible for the first time viewer to enjoy 'The Young Winston' in its shortened version, the original cinema release was an altogether more complete and therefore, more satisfying work.
John Ward 29 September 2010