Saturday, March 24, 2007


Art imitates life imitates art

[source: Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, by Jon Meacham]

Have you ever wondered how great war leaders busy saving the world spend their occasional down time?

Steaming across the ocean to meet Roosevelt for what is now known as the Atlantic Conference in August 1941 -- the first war-time meeting between the American and British leaders to map out grand strategy -- Churchill spent an evening viewing Lady Hamilton, a recent biopic of the affair between Hamilton (Vivian Leigh) and Admiral Horatio Nelson (Laurence Olivier).

The film, of course, depicts Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar, the 1805 naval engagement that dealt a fatal blow to Napolean's threatened cross-channel invasion of England. In the movie, as in the real battle, Nelson gave the famous signal to his fleet, "England expects that every man will do his duty." Nelson is wounded by a French sniper and carried below, where a midshipmen tells the dying Admiral that the English fleet has won "a victory, a great victory!"

"Thank god," Nelson replies, "I have done my duty."

Alexander Cadogan, a high British official watching the film with Churchill noted in his diary: "PM [prime minister] watching film for 5th time moved to tears."

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