The Trailer For Kate Winslet Wartime Drama, Lee, Has Just Dropped

By Charlie Colville

3 weeks ago

This film has been eight years in the making

It’s been a while since we’ve encountered a wartime drama we’re truly excited for. Following several years of production, Kate Winslet is ready to bring her biographical film Lee to the big screen – and, with just a few months to go before its release, we finally have a trailer. Here’s what we can expect from the film.

Lee: Everything We Know So Far

ate Winslet as Lee Miller & Andy Samberg as Davie Scherman

Kate Winslet as Lee Miller & Andy Samberg as Davie Scherman (c) Sky UK Ltd

What Is Lee About?

Lee is a biographical drama depicting the life of war journalist Lee Miller (Kate Winslet). The film, which is Ellen Kuras’s feature directorial debut, is an exploration of what has been described as ‘the most significant decade of Lee Miller’s life’. Set during WW2, Lee looks at the real events that shaped Miller’s career as a photojournalist and her ambition to showcase an eye-witness account of the casualties of war.

As Sky summarises:

‘The film explores the most significant decade of Lee Miller’s life. As a middle-aged woman, she refused to be remembered as a model and male artists’ muse. Lee Miller defied the expectations and rules of the time by traveling to Europe to report from the frontline during WWII. There, in part as a reaction to her own well-hidden trauma, she used her Rolleiflex camera to give a voice to the voiceless. What she captured on film in Dachau and throughout Europe was shocking and horrific. Her photographs of the war, its victims and its consequences remain among the most significant and historically important of the Second World War. She changed war photography forever, but Lee Miller paid an enormous personal price for what she witnessed and the stories she fought to tell.’

Is Lee Based On A True Story?

Yes, Lee is a retelling of the life real-life American photographer and photojournalist Elizabeth ‘Lee’ Miller. The screenplay was adapted from the 1985 biography The Lives of Lee Miller by Antony Penrose, Miller’s son.

Who Was Lee Miller?

When we find out exactly what Miller did and accomplished throughout her life, it’s not a surprise that her son referred to her biography as ‘the lives’. Miller went through multiple career changes during her lifetime, and her early years were filled with a succession of traumatic events. If you recently watched Civil War, the main character, also a photojournalist called Lee (played by Kirsten Dunst), is a reference to the real Lee Miller.

Content Warning: mentions of sexual assault

Miller grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and was one of three children. From an early age, Miller was the victim of sexual violence; at the age of seven, she was raped while staying with a family friend in Brooklyn, and she spent much of teenage years nude modelling for her father’s amateur photography hobby.

In 1926, at 19 years old, Miller made an attempt to step in front of a car on a Manhattan street, but was prevented from doing so by the publisher of Vogue, Condé Nast. Soon after the incident, she went on to become a professional model, appearing in the pages of Vogue and being photographed by some New York’s leading fashion photographers – including Edward Steichen, Arnold Genthe, Nickolas Muray and George Hoyningen-Huene. However, her career as a fashion model was short-lived; in 1928, Kotex used a photograph of Miller by Steichen to advertise its menstrual pads, effectively destroying her chances of being a face in fashion.

Marion Cotillard as Solange D'Ayen & Kate Winslet as Lee Miller

Marion Cotillard as Solange D’Ayen & Kate Winslet as Lee Miller (c) Sky UK Ltd

Following these events, Miller decided to pursue photography herself, and travelled to Paris with the goal of becoming an apprentice to surrealist artist Man Ray. While the artist initially insisted that he did not take apprentices, Miller quickly became his model and collaborator – as well as his lover and muse. The two collaborated closely for a number of years, with Miller starting up her own photographic studio while taking on many of Man Ray’s fashion assignments.

Miller eventually left Man Ray in 1932, returning to New York City following a number of disputes over the attribution of their shared work. She went on to establish a successful portrait and commercial studio – but, in 1934, she abandoned her studio and spent a number of years between Cairo, Paris and London.

The war years, which is what Lee focuses on, saw Miller start a new career in photojournalism as the official war photographer for Vogue. She initially documented the Blitz, as well as the lives of nurses, those on the front lines and prisoners of war. Miller famously documented the first use of napalm at the siege of St. Malo, as well as the liberation of Paris, the Battle of Alsace and the conditions of Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. She also notably teamed up with fellow American photographer Dave E. Scherman on a number of assignments; a famous photograph of Miller, taken on the same day Adolf Hitler committed suicide, saw her sat in the bathtub of Hitler’s apartment in Munich.

Kate Winslet

Miller continued to work as a wartime photojournalist even after WW2 ended, but on her return to Britain it was noted that she suffered severe episodes of clinical depression and PTSD. She and her husband, fellow surrealist artist Roland Penrose, settled at Farley Farm House in Chiddingly, East Sussex, and their home became a hub for visiting artists like Picasso, Man Ray, Henry Moore, Eileen Agar, Jean Dubuffet, Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst.

She spent the rest of her days at Farley Farm House, and passed away from cancer at age 70 in 1977.

Who Stars?

Alongside Kate Winslet, Lee is set to star a number of other big names in the industry, including Josh O’Connor (The CrownChallengers), Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Alexander Skarsgård (The Northman, Infinity Pool). You can see the full cast list below:

  • Kate Winslet as Lee Miller
  • Marion Cotillard as Solange d’Ayen
  • Andrea Riseborough as Audrey Withers
  • Andy Samberg as David Scherman
  • Noémie Merlant as Nusch Éluard
  • Josh O’Connor as Antony Penrose
  • Alexander Skarsgård as Roland Penrose
  • Arinzé Kene as Major Jonesy
  • Vincent Colombe as Paul Éluard
  • Patrick Mille as Jean D’Ayen
  • Samuel Barnett as Cecil Beaton
  • Zita Hanrot as Ady Fidelin
  • James Murray as Colonel Spencer
Actors in wartime period costume with director

Ellen Kuras, Andy Samberg & Kate Winslet(c) Sky UK Ltd

Why Did It Take So Long To Make?

Lee took approximately eight years to make; this was due to a combination of Covid-related breaks, actors strikes and an initial lack of funding. Winslet, who also acted as a producer on the film, is even said to have paid the entire cast and crew’s salaries for two weeks at one point, when funding was at a low.

Where Was Lee Filmed?

Lee was filmed primarily in Croatia and Hungary, despite being set in wartime hubs in France and Germany.

Is There A Trailer?

Yes, a trailer for Lee dropped this week. You can watch it below:

Release Date

Lee will premiere in UK and Irish cinemas on 13 September 2024, and in US theatres on 27 September 2024.

Can You Stream It?

The film is being theatrically released by Sky Cinema in the UK, so we expect it will become available on Sky Cinema soon after.