Darkest Hour is the story of Winston Churchill, just elected prime minister of Britain, who has some serious decisions to make almost immediately. Hitler had invaded several countries in Europe, and thousands of British troops were stranded in Dunkirk, France. In parliament, there were those who wanted to negotiate with Hitler, and those who believed a like response to his aggressions would be necessary.
Which way would Churchill go? If you’ve ever been in history class, I’m sure you know the answer to that question, but you likely do not know the process by which Britain entered World War II. This film spans just a month or so, and shows us the inner workings of the monarchy, parliament, and 10 Downing Street.
Winston Churchill (Gary Oldham) is an older man who is eccentric, drinks too much, and is motivated to rise in British government. He moves into the position of prime minister accompanied by his wife Clemmie (Kristen Scott Thomas) who proves to be the woman behind the man in some respects.
Churchill nearly terrorizes his new secretary, Elizabeth (Lily James) who has a brother in the military, and is understandably concerned about his welfare and those of the others stationed with him.
Churchill’s opposers in Parliament, especially Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) and Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) work behind the scenes to try to get him removed as soon as possible, and meanwhile, the decision for war or peace looms over Churchill’s head.
The film is rated PG-13 for some thematic material. Gary Oldham was nominated for Best Actor in a drama at the Golden Globe Awards for his performance as Churchill. Truly, there were times I really forgot I was watching a movie and not a newsreel of Churchill himself. It is a masterful performance. My husband commented on how well Kristen Scott Thomas played his wife. To be a loyal support to him through all the years of service to England could not have been easy, and she makes Clemmie believable.
I hope people do get out and see this film. Remembering history and lessons to be learned from the past mistakes or triumphs of those who came before us and took the risks for mankind is vitally important now. I also find it interesting that the film Dunkirk came out this year as well. I haven’t seen the film yet, but am intrigued now.
Churchill had his darkest hour as he had to decide whether to negotiate peace with a raving genocidal maniac, or send thousands of British and others in the fight to death. Not an easy choice. It was quite moving when during a scene in Darkest Hour, Churchill boards the tube and rides to Winchester Cathedral with commoners. He asks for their opinion, and resoundingly, they denounce Fascism and voice their support of the fight. Never succumb to the Fascists.
Perhaps we will need to be so bold again. Hopefully not to the extent of a war, but rather to the extent of resistance.