I confess that the knowledge that Franlkin D Roosevelt was was buried somewhere in my sub-conscious was a paraplegic to the point that if you had asked me last week I’d only guess that it was a fact because it’d be a weird thing to ask someone if he wasn’t.
Warm Springs stars Kenneth Branagh as Roosevelt and Cynthia Nixon as his wife Eleanor, and tells the story of how Franklin D Roosevelt, aged 39, contracted Polio and became paralyzed from the waist down. The film pulls little punches in depicting the downward spiral Roosevelt began descending when he realized that this probably spelt the end to his political career. However, he became determined to find alternative therapies on his quest to regain the use of his legs; visiting a run down resort in Georgia which offered, as it’s name suggested Warm Springs – the buoyancy and warmth of the water providing an ideal therapy where leg muscles could be exercised underwater without the patient becoming too cold due to poor circulation coupled with the required length of time required in the water for the therapy to have any effects.
Roosevelt invested his trust fund into the purchase and renovation of the Warm Springs resort – dedicating the facilities to polio sufferers. The movie tells the story of how, in so doing, coupled the support and stepping up of his wife, and that of his fellow patients and staff at Warm Springs, he regained the will to lead the United States as President – although, never regaining the use of his legs.
It’s a heart warming made for TV kinda film – but it’s made for TV by HBO – so you can expect quality production values, performance and direction – and it delivers on all three parts. I found new found respect for Branagh as an actor – he’s so convincing in the role without ever resorting to impersonation; for the duration of the film he truly ‘becomes’ Roosevelt without attempting to look or sound like the man.
It’s an inspiriting story and one that I confess i didn’t know the details of until I saw the film. Roosevelt became President of the Unites States of America in 1933; leading the nation through a time of world-wide economic crisis and World War. He is the only President to serve three terms.
WARM SPRINGS is screening on Sky’s SOHO Channel this Friday at 8.30pm