In May 1940, the fate of Western Europe hangs on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, or fight on knowing that it could mean a humiliating defeat for Britain and its empire.
During World War II, as Adolf Hitler's awesomely powerful Wehrmacht rampages across Europe, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, is forced to resign, recommending Winston Churchill as his replacement. But even in his early days as the country's leader, Churchill is under pressure to commence peace negotiations with the German dictator or to fight head-on the seemingly invincible Nazi regime, whatever the cost. However difficult and dangerous his decision may be, Churchill has no choice but to shine in the country's darkest hour.Written by
Although Winston Churchill is usually celebrated as a British icon and a national hero, he is also a controversial figure on the British Left and the film's release led to many people posting articles on social media feeling that it offered a fictional and romanticized version of him. They pointed out issues such as Churchill's support for the usage of tear gas and poison gas, his use of chemical weapons on villages in Russia, his support for eugenics such as the forced sterilization of the mentally ill, his role in the sinking of RMS Lusitania and the Bengal Famine of 1943. For example, the popular left-wing actor and Labour supporter Ian Reddington even re-tweeted an article which described Churchill as "a vile racist, fanatical about violence and fiercely supportive of imperialism," while historian Louise Raw wrote an article for The Independent urging people not to forget "his problematic past." Other areas of contention left-wingers and liberals have against Churchill include his opposition to votes for women before World War I (he was famously quoted "the women's suffrage movement is only the small edge of the wedge, if we allow women to vote it will mean the loss of social structure and the rise of every liberal cause under the sun... women are well represented by their fathers, brothers, and husbands"), sending the Black and Tans to Ireland, his support for concentration camps in colonial Africa and his 1950s government's stepping-up of prosecutions against gay men, which of course included Alan Turing, who was famously celebrated in the film The Imitation Game (2014) and posthumously pardoned. After Oldman said at the Academy Awards "I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill," Shree Paradkar wrote for the Toronto Star online that the actor "might as well have danced on three million dead bodies" and questioned when there would be "a film on Winston Churchill, the barbaric monster with the blood of millions on his hands." See more »
Churchill's first use of the 'V' finger sign does not occur until the middle of 1941, a year after this film takes place. See more »
When Meryl Streep won her third Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" it was as much for her make-up as it was for her acting, (it's actually one of her least interesting performances; more mimicry than anything else). The same can't be said of Gary Oldman's turn as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright's "Darkest Hour". It's a phenomenal performance that demolishes all previous Churchills. Yes, he looks the part thanks again to his hugely talented make-up artists and he has the voice off pat, but more importantly he gets inside Churchill's heart and head which is, perhaps, something of a surprise considering the material he's been given to work with is really rather third-rate.
Wright's film, which simply covers the month of May 1940 when Churchill was elected Prime Minister and saw the evacuation at Dunkirk has every cliche in the book including a disasterous scene when Winston decides to ride the Underground for the first time in order to gauge public opinion. This sequence is positively embarrasing though Oldman just about manages to carry it off. Elsewhere the film is very unevenly acted. The men have the best of it with both Ben Mendelsohn and Ronald Pickup impressing as the King and Neville Chamberlin respectively. On the other hand, Kristin Scott Thomas isn't given enough to do as a rather genteel Clemmie and Lily James makes for a very dull secretary. So then, very much a hit and miss affair worth seeing for Oldman's Oscar-winning performance, (they may as well put his name on it now), providing you are prepared for another lame history movie and Wright's poorest picture to date.
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