Thursday, December 7, 2017


Gary Oldman     Kristin Scott Thomas     Stephen Dillane     Ronald Pickup     Ben Mendelssohn     Lily James

     Timing.  If only this picture had preceded Dunkirk, I think we would have a better understanding of both films.  Darkest Hour informs us about Winston Churchill’s darkest hour just after he’s become Prime Minister (without the firm support of key Parliament members and even King George VI) when Hitler’s Germany has occupied the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.  Viscount Halifax (Dillane) and Lord Chamberlain (Pickup) are urging him to start negotiations for peace with Hitler—which is anathema to Churchill.  But to this film’s credit, we feel the tremendous burden the conundrum places on someone with this degree of power.  And Churchill sincerely looks at all sides, finally being convinced of the road to take, delivering one of the most rousing speeches of his career about standing up to Hitler’s military threat.  (The ride on the underground, where he elicits riders’ opinions is the filmmakers’ invention.)
     Writer Anthony McCarten and Director Joe Wright have made Darkest Hour a study of Winston Churchill the man—his relationship with his wife Clementine (Thomas) (who continually reinforces the better side of him), his interactions with Parliament members and his staff and the King (Mendelssohn), and frequent periods of doubt and concern over doing what was right for the country and its people.   He seems hardboiled about sacrificing thousands of troops in Callaix, yet when it is made personal by his secretary Miss Layton (James), he is clearly moved and saddened.  When his family toasts him on winning the post of Prime Minister, his own toast is, “Here’s to not buggering it up.”
     This may be the role of Gary Oldham’s career, and one that may earn him a long overdue Academy Award.  The makeup and his portrayal of the great man completely hide his own identity.  I tried in vain to see a trace of Oldham the actor in his appearance.  He’s known for a wide range of roles and pictures, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Nil by Mouth (writer, director), Sid and Nancy, The Dark Knight (2), Batman, Planet of the Apes, and Harry Potter, and he well deserves accolades for his performance here.  Kristin Scott Thomas is exemplary in her acting as well, and Lily James is noteworthy in her role as Churchill’s new secretary. 
    Director Joe Wright is acclaimed for his British productions, particularly Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, but is respected as well for his other films, The Soloist, Hanna, and Anna Karenina. In Darkest Hour, he elects to shine more light on Churchill’s personality, particularly during a tenuous period when he has little support and must convince so many that it’s better not to negotiate with Hitler and Mussolini but for England to stand its ground.  He was a voice crying in the wilderness, because so many in the government were not taking strong stands against fascism, and his good friend President Roosevelt did not feel free (because of America’s neutral stance) to lend air support. 
     The film highlights that period of time when Winston Churchill proved himself a hero.  Not much will be new to the viewer after so many Churchill movies; the primary reason to see it is perhaps Gary Oldman’s performance.

Behind the scenes government in Britain leading up to the Battle of Dunkirk.

Grade:  C                                    By Donna R. Copeland

1 comment:

  1. Before we laud old Churchill with all this historical glory . Let me sober up a few these Churchill supporters.
    This movie(DARKEST HOUR) fails to tell the truth about Churchill and his lying or his deliberate untruthfulness blaming the Belgian King and the Belgian army for the BEF's defeat in 1940. When in truth it was the Belgian King and the Belgian army that sacrificed themselves to allow the BEF to escape!
    Listen to Lord Keyes as he speaks to the BBC on THE GREAT LIE !
    link below
    How DARKEST HOUR or Dunkirk were made omitting this vital germain event in May 1940 reveals Churchills dirty work that know one wants to talk about.

    Churchill suprested the truth, these lies are now coming out as classified damning documents are now being made public.
    See Whose Fault Was Dunkirk?
    link below

    It took over 40 years to get the old Churchill Society to come clean, because I finally had the evedence on them and they had no where to hide but admit Churchill had lied
    they used the words gross “terminological in exactitude” in describing Churchills actions.
    Copy and paste link below

    In his book Dunkirk History behind the Motion Picture Joshua Levine used my research to clearly point out Churchill's Great Lie.
    link below

    Perhaps now we can say, KIng Leopold III King of The Belgians,Commander and Chief of the Belgian Army May 10 1940 -May 28 1940 vindicated as
    "The Scapegoat who saved the British from defeat in 1940"