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
Winston Churchill tried to have documents destroyed which showed that the Nazis had plans to restore the Duke of Windsor to the throne if they defeated the UK. Churchill had strongly opposed his abdication as King Edward VIII in 1936. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were great admirers of the British aristocracy. Windsor had made a controversial visit to Germany in 1937, met Hitler, given Nazi salutes during his visit and inspected the SS. See more »
Blackout restrictions were imposed starting in September 1939 and strictly enforced, requiring all vehicles to be fitted with slotted covers that only allowed a tiny sliver of light to be directed downwards toward the road. However, all the vehicles in the street scenes had fully exposed headlights. See more »
Disclaimer in closing credits: "The depictions of tobacco smoking contained in this film are based solely on artistic consideration and are not intended to promote tobacco consumption. The Surgeon General has determined that there are serious health risks associated with smoking and with secondhand smoke." 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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