Rick Trank is the director, co-writer and co-producer of the new documentary, “Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny.”
The film, narrated by Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, focuses on, according the documentary’s website, “Churchill’s years in the political wilderness, his early opposition to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, and his support for Jews under threat by the Nazi regime.” Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, served as a historical consultant to the production and is featured prominently in the documentary itself.
The documentary, a production of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films Center, is currently being shown in select locations around the country (click here to see where).
Trank recently agreed to answer 10 questions from The Daily Caller about what makes Churchill so special as a historical figure, what his documentary offers that is different from all the movies and books that have already been made about the great British prime minister and other topics of interest:
1. Why did you decide to make this documentary? And what makes this Churchill film different from others that have been produced about him?
My producing partner, Rabbi Marvin Hier, and I have made a number of documentaries about the WWII/Holocaust era in which Winston Churchill was a major subject. Both he and I are also longtime Churchill buffs and always read the latest books that have been written about him. Rabbi Hier happened to be a co-speaker at an event in Arizona where Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer and a longtime collaborator with the Simon Wiesenthal Center on several projects over the years, was speaking. Sir Martin was discussing his new book about Winston Churchill’s relationship with the Jewish people entitled “Churchill and the Jews.” When the book was published, Rabbi Hier and I began to discuss how a film that examined Churchill’s long relationship with the Jewish community and support of Jewish causes and Zionism might be an interesting documentary to make. Sir Martin agreed to serve as the historical consultant on such a film and we began working on it in the spring of 2009. As work progressed we became concerned that just focusing on Churchill and the Jews might be too parochial of a documentary. At the same time, we both saw that the years of 1940 and 1941, when Churchill was virtually alone in the fight against Nazi Germany, was a fascinating historical period. So we decided to change our focus a bit but also to use the story of Churchill’s relationship with the Jews as an undercurrent to the story of 1940 and 1941. I think that this is what sets this film apart from others that have been made and it seems that audiences agree.
2. What makes Churchill such a compelling historical figure and is it fair to say – as I would argue – that he was the most important and greatest leader of the 20th century?
I think there are several reasons why Churchill is such a compelling historical figure. First is the breadth and length of his career, which spanned from the turn of the last century through the late 1950s. Second was his refusal to alter his principles even when it meant public ridicule and spending years in the political wilderness, as was the case from 1930 to 1940 when he was the lone voice in British politics speaking out against Hitler and the Chamberlain government’s appeasement policies. It is fair to say that he was the most important and the greatest leader of the 20th century because without his leadership during WWII, we would be living in a much different world today.