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Darkest Hour is the much anticipated biopic on Churchill’s first term as Prime Minister, set during 1940 and as the name would suggest the Darkest Hour for both him and the UK.

It comes not long on the heels of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and while they are two very different films, there is some crossover in that DH at times does focus on Operation Dynamo.

They are not films to compare but when it comes to laying out the situation, comparisons can’t help but be drawn as DH is filled with exposition on the status of the War, Dynamo and Dunkirk. But Dunkirk shows us this and doesn’t stop to explain, something that DH does repeatedly even with minor details.

Though this is likely done to enhance our understanding of the impossible position that Churchill was in as the Prime Minister, so we can see the pressure that had been laid upon his shoulders.

As one of the key themes of the film is about whether it is right to tell the people the truth or to continue to give them hope by lying in broadcasts through Churchill’s speeches.

This struggle is portrayed well and we can see how it weighed on Churchill, his mind and those around him. It becomes more important than the 300,000 British soldiers or the total loss of Europe that in unfolding.

Yet this almost minor and secondary representation of these major events fits in well as we see Churchill refusal to believe that France was losing, that tanks were Germany’s main invasion force and that the tide couldn’t be turned.

Oldman gives, what should be, an award winning performance as Churchill truly showing how the man struggled not only with the politics of staying in power but the war that faces him.

Yet the performance is the strongest aspect of the film as the film can go from nail bitingly tense scenes to blood curdling scenes that ruin the tone of the film.

A lot of the film seems to be based on filling the spectator in on the historic events, persons or content while it plods from one famous Churchill speech to another. This results in a fairly large emotional detachment as it becomes hard to invest in the events and the narrative.

This is further compounded by a sequence that has a theoretical basic in fact but is acknowledged as a fiction, which for me enhanced the film albeit by ruining the tone that had been established.

To give my personal opinion would be that it is a film worth seeing, if only for Oldman’s performance, and you will come out having enjoyed it. But if you are expecting to come out shaking or in awe as you would have from Dunkirk, then I would suggest you lower your expectations.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Looking forward to seeing this, but i have to say i was underwhelmed by Dunkirk yes it had some nice tricks in the cinematography seeing the same sequence from two different persons point of view was good, but it didn’t convey the enormity of the situation for the UK if Dunkirk had failed.

    Anyhows opinions are like bumholes i guess 🙂

  2. The younger generation flock to see these films. Any understanding of war is probably a good thing. The first Dunkirk film did give insight which the second film did not however getting anyone to watch the first would be impossible nowadays. Perhaps such new films will generate curiousity and some form of education concerning war allowing more people to comprehend the realities and politics. The last 70 years in Europe faired better than the previous 50. As many people as possible need to know why.

  3. I loved both Dunkirk and Darkest Hour. They are films, not documentaries and thus full of artistic license. I like that Churchill isn’t portrayed as infallible, but probably he alone wa capable of carrying the country at that stage is a debt we should forever appreciate. How we miss an inspirational figure with some vision right now!

  4. My dad was at Dunkirk and said virtually nothing to me about his experience of it or any other aspect of the war
    What i do know is the fact that my mum and dad didnt see each other for 5 years
    This is what pees me off when the oldies of which i am now one get blames for everthing today
    I think the snowflakes want to sit down and digest what they done and that now includes myself who served (RFA) and worked and payed taxes all my life and are now complaining we are destroying there life for wanting out of the EU

  5. I saw the movie last night, and it’s certainly well worth a viewing.

    The performance of Gary Oldman as Churchill is a real tour-de-force; the two big set-piece speeches in the Commons, “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”, and “fight on the beaches” are delivered with great passion and verve. They really sent this reviewer’s pulses tingling.
    Oldman was very ably assisted by Kristin Scott Thomas as the long suffering Clemmie.

    In general terms, I thought the narrative was reasonably accurate to events. But some moments did jar, in particular, the fictitious impromptu poll by Churchill on the London tube!

    I think George VI was given a stronger role than he merited, and the portrayal of Chamberlain and Halifax far too limited – rather than Hitler, they were the bad guys in the movie!

    Chamberlain was again shown as weak, and the man who led Britain unprepared into war. In reality, during his vigorous premiership, about 50% of government expenditure was being spent on defence; and Britain entered WW2 with a modern, highly mechanised BEF – plus the most sophisticated air-defence network in the world. On foreign policy, almost the entire country was behind Chamberlain’s appeasement policy, including the King & Queen – and perhaps Churchill’s genius was to persuade a demoralised nation that they really had been for confronting Hitler all-along …. and only a few guilty appeasers had held them back!

    But the film is all about Churchill’s own finest hour, and perhaps fittingly, the movie ends with Ed Murrow’s famous quote, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle”

  6. If only we had a Churchill now, or at least a shadow of him. Brexit is the greatest thing we have done since the end of the Cold War but the vermin in Parliament are trying to thwart it, directly against the majority will of voters. We need a swashbuckler with a vision of the UK as a newly free, invigorated global country – rather than May who is still trying to cling on to the EU nurse for fear of something worse.

    • Your ‘swashbucklers with a vision of the UK’ are the fairly underwhelming, unconvincing and surprisingly ignorant trio of Brexit leaders, Davis, Gove, Johnson, who peddles endless falsehoods and false promises. If we had a Churchill today, I think he would surely blast them across the House, as he did Baldwin, Halifax and Chamberlain, hammering home that Brexit is nothing short of a national economic suicide note and a complete dereliction of duty by the Mother of Parliaments.

      He always put the national interest first, doubt he would be much impressed by the Tory right-wing rushing to leave Europe in order to tear-up legislation on worker protection, pensions, environmental and consumer protection, maternity leave and anything else that gets in the way of turning the UK into a compliant low-wage, offshore tax haven with the welfare state privatised and cut to the bone, US Republican style. Nope, Churchill would definitely not be up for ANY part of that foolish agenda.

      • Churchill was certainly quite happy to be in a minority of one and fight his corner but he also respected a democratic decision such as his defeat in 1945 because he recognised that’s what we had fought for. To be honest which ever side you or me might think he would have been on in the BREXIT vote doesn’t matter because he respected and understood democracy unlike messrs Clegg, Blair and Heseltine.
        Of course with his vision we would have been able to manage our external affairs so that BREXIT would never have happened because the EU would have developed differently and we would not have be in so deep in the first place.
        Your point on the Tories, which I have some sympathy with can of course be defeated by a majority at the ballot box and I am sure they will in time. However, in the circumstances of the time voting out was and remains in my mind the right thing to have done.

      • In your own deranged imagination possibly, but the facts say otherwise. Churchill never wanted the UK to be part of any United States of Europe and felt strong bonds of history, kinship and family with the USA and the wider Anglosphere.

        Your assertion that Brexit is down to “the Tory right wing” is as fallacious as the rest of your argument – 60% of Leave voters were working class, and over a third of Labour voters voted Leave – indeed well over a third of SNP voters!

        Theresa May is a twenty first century Neville Chamberlain – an appeaser who has no vision for our country as a dynamic, independent, global, free trading nation. We won’t be a superpower again but there’s a place for us as a highly influential world power. The faster we leave the corrupt EU – which has taken over half a trillion Pounds of our wealth since 1973, yet routinely insulted us and/or mocked us – the better.

        Those hubristic fools don’t seem to be laughing anymore, and instead are resorting to passive-aggressive bitching about how they would love us back but we’d have to take the rest of their rotten rules – the Euro, EU Army, ECJ, etc. What a joke!

      • Are you seriously arguing that we need the EU to tell us how to treat workers or anyone else? The continent that gave us Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, Napoleon.

    • Yes, we have, it’s Boris and he shares a similar public persona to Churchill. In the Thirties, Winston was as plausible, as Boris is currently perceived. Their attributes are very similar, an extrovert with the heart of a lion. Both were and are, not necessarily conformists nor true team players, yet possess a magic and magnetism that very few of their contemparies enjoy. The $64,000 question is, will Boris be given the opportunity?

  7. David someone is required to deal with the powerful vested interests that have and are continuing to destroy this country and who is willing to tell people that we have to pay our way in the world if we want decent services and have a country we can pass on to the next generation. That vision also needs to articulate where as a country we want to be as we are no longer a great world power but the lap dog attitude to the USA and now the EU is pathetic. Leaving the EU is an opportunity that I think maybe wasted to set the country on a better path in the longer term.

    • Agreed. We need to be an independent nation and not a lapdog to the USA or EU. I lived in Japan for many years and they are precisely that. They have been hugely successful as a global trading nation, modelled very much on the 19th century UK. We need to get back to our roots!

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