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Just Between Frames

Our Take On: "Darkest Hour"

Darkest Hour graphic

JBF members came away from this movie with a deeper appreciation for both Winston Churchill and actor Gary Oldman who portrayed him. We talked about how well the film gets across the intense tension of the situation that Churchill came into as Prime Minister in May of 1940. England under Chamberlain was on the brink of having to negotiate with Hitler or continue to fight when British troops were facing final defeat. We discussed how – in this one month – Churchill wrote four of his greatest speeches, and successfully argued for Operation Dynamo that resulted in the “Miracle at Dunkirk”. We had seen a great documentary on Dunkirk, but we came to appreciate the troop efforts at Calais and how critical it was for them to hold long enough to make the escape at Dunkirk possible. We could easily sympathize with Churchill’s anguish over Calais, and how it stayed with him for the rest of his life.

It was a surprise for some, that Churchill’s own party did not want him to be Prime Minister, and others were shocked to learn at the end of the film that Churchill was voted out of office at the end of the war. (He came back later as members who follow “The Queen” series knew!) We also talked about how important it was for Churchill to have gained the support of King George – who initially could hardly stand Churchill. We thought it showed just how large Churchill’s network to the people and their wishes for the country must have been. He may not have actually polled them in the Underground, but he was known to pursue conversations with everyone from his gardener to the opposition. And he would have appreciated what the king would have learned from the royal family’s interactions with the public. One member had read The Last Lion about Winston Churchill and highly recommended it. She also mentioned that not only had Churchill been an amateur bricklayer (like a character in the movie) he was a talented painter as well.

We also liked getting a sense of the warm family relations he had with his children and the sincere affection between he and his wife (whom we also thought was wonderfully portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas).  

In conclusion: we all agreed that Gary Oldman richly deserved his Oscar award, and that Darkest Hour was a wonderful, thoughtful film.

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