Darkest Hour (2017)
January 15, 2018 9:42 PM - Subscribe

During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs in the balance. The newly-appointed British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or to fight on against incredible odds.

Features a brilliant performance by Gary Oldman as Churchill, a role that garnered him a 2018 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a drama. He is joined by Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn, and Lily James. Celebrated Japanese makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuiji came out of retirement to provide Mr. Oldman's transformation into the historic figure. Directed by Joe Wright.

Review from Variety: Set during the crucial early days of Winston Churchill’s first term as prime minister, this talky yet stunningly cinematic history lesson balances the great orator’s public triumphs with more vulnerable private moments of self-doubt, elevating the inner workings of British government into a compelling piece of populist entertainment.

(Darkest Hour takes some liberties with actual history. A British history professor provided details in the Slate article "What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in Darkest Hour.")
posted by gemmy (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this today in a double-feature with Dunkirk. Gary Oldman is a joy to watch, and he is completely deserving of all the accolades. It is a brilliantly shot film, using muted colors and well thought out framing to illustrate the themes of the film. The way it's shot has a way of making each scene feel deep and poignant. I got tired of the slow-mo shots after a while, as they felt a bit overused. Nevertheless, I thought it was really good, and Oldman was mesmerizing!

Well worth seeing.
posted by gemmy at 9:50 PM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Definitely a good companion film to "Dunkirk". Oldman's characterization of Churchill isn't just the usual bombast and steely determination version of Winston Churchill that other movies about him have relied upon. The scene on the Tube is so unbelievable that it took me right out of the atmosphere of the film entirely, and the scene where Churchill and King George meet in Churchill's home also seemed fairly contrived. I also liked the visual style with the washed out color and the old-fashioned graphics for the passing of time.
posted by briank at 6:29 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

vulnerable private moments of self-doubt
More so than in The Crown? If so, I'll be watching this just for that.
posted by unliteral at 3:36 PM on January 16, 2018

I much preferred Oldman's portrayal to Cox. Cox felt too dull and drab. I enjoyed that Oldman puts so much energy and fight into his version of Churchill. Lithgow's portrayal is very cowed but I imagine it's because it makes Foy's performance as the Queen shine that much more brightly.

By the way, I just posted to the blue, on the subject of the many ways that Winston Churhill has been portrayed in film and television.
posted by Fizz at 6:56 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Saw this last night. Impressed by Oldman's performance (although I sometimes wondered if I he was overly influenced by Finney's performance in A Gathering Storm) and thought that the lighting was absolutely magnificent.

Oldman and Wright leading the cast in a between scenes stirring rendition of Hey Jude.

Are there good theories as to why Halifax really turned down the post of PM at that time?
posted by humph at 8:37 AM on January 17, 2018

Tides of History has an interview with Gary Oldman about this film, incidentally.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:52 AM on January 17, 2018

Just saw this. Oldman is very nearly 60; Churchill was 66 at the time depicted, but Oldman seems at times to be embodying a much older man, forgetful, on the brink of dementia, reaching for the words and the power to bring off the big oratorical scenes.

The low lighting and the low-saturated tones in the street scenes are striking.

I wish they'd found more for Kristin Scott Thomas to do, although as an actor she does seem to be at her best in a sort of very classy stillness.

Nobody seems to be remarking that it's Churchill's second encounter with George VI, in which the king seems to have taken his side, that's the turning point in Churchill's decisiveness. Guy who plays the king does a very convincing performance.

The Tube scene in this movie somehow reminded me of Helen Mirren's scene with the stag in The Queen. We know it's made up but it's a scene that's somehow evoked by the needs of the character and the script. Odd.
posted by zadcat at 10:19 PM on January 28, 2018

Like a couple others in here, I saw this on the heels of seeing Dunkirk - and I think that worked to Darkest Hour's detriment for me. There was a rawness to Dunkirk that made Darkest Hour seem so....Hollywood, I suppose, like with that made-up scene in the Tube and the way that Kristin Scott Thomas was kind of shuttled aside into a role that consisted mainly of "wife that bucks Churchill up upon request".

The most affecting parts for me were the two sequences when Churchill is in his limo, and we just see a camera pan past a bunch of people just going about their day in the street - women pushing prams, kids goofing around in Hitler masks for some reason, people scrambling to put up umbrellas in a sudden rain....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 AM on March 2, 2018

This just arrived on HBO, FWIW.

I thoroughly enjoyed it; but at the same time felt a little wary "but how accurate is all this, really?" throughout and a hearty "OH COME ON THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN" at the Tube scene.

The lighting, yes; and the haze, in particular in the Chamber of the House, because back then everyone smoked everywhere.

Kristin Scott Thomas was kind of shuttled aside into a role that consisted mainly of "wife that bucks Churchill up upon request".

Kind of, although I think she did as much with it as she could: a definite note of he's-an-asshole-but-I'm-stuck-with-him: "Leave me, Clemmie." / "The opportunity for doing so passed a long time ago."

I liked Ronald Pickup's performance as Neville Chamberlain a lot, too.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:19 PM on August 20, 2018

Now I'm super curious what a peace agreement with Hitler would have looked like. Did Hitler favor it so that he could invade the Soviets without two fronts? And moving the planes by horse an actual idea floated by FDR? And lastly, I'm super ashamed of the US isolationist posture. The pilots who went to war anyway are heroes we don't often hear about.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:53 PM on August 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

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