Movie Review — Darkest Hour
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue to fight is what counts.”
As with many figures in history, be it a book or in a movie, it is often better to focus on a small part of their life, rather than their life story from cradle to grave. This, like the book a have revied Six Minutes in May by Nicholas Shakespeare are great examples. In May 1940, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin would resign. Lord Halifax refused the offer to be Chamberlin’s successor and Winston Churchill would take his place. Things were not going well in the way with the fall of Holland and Denmark. Within days, it was inevitable that France would also fall to Nazi Germany. Few liked him, as Churchill had past failures like the April Gallipoli campaign in 1915 as the First Lord of the Admiralty where he was held personally responsible. King George VI was opposed to Winston becoming prime minister.
Elizabeth Layton was Churchill’s new sectary who initial would cause him displeasure. But through his wife Clementine, whom Winston always leaned on and needed her advice, would change his mind. She would actually be his sectary for five years until he lost the General election in July 1945. In the movie she helped type his speeches, telegrams and so on as he dictated them to her. Part of the fiction in the movie was her brother died in the retreat of Dunkirk, and that starting to work for him during the Battle of France. Another fictional, but still a great uplifting scene was Churchill going on the Underground and talking with the people in his one stop trip to Westminster. There he asks the occupants in the carriage what to do, and they all say they want to fight and never surrender.
This is the theme throughout the movie. Never surrender or appease your enemy. Lord Halifax and the Chamberlin wanted to negotiate a surrender with Hitler, with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. This angers Winston. “When will the lesson be learned? When will the lesson be learned” he says again? How many dictators must be wooed? Appeased? …. before we learn? You cannot reason with a Tiger when your head is in it’s mouth!” The message is the same today. Churchill’s leadership, ordering a civilian fleet to cross the Channel to rescue and save almost all of the 300,000 troops, who were trapped in Dunkirk in France, is a miracle in itself. Britain and her Allies would win the war against one of the greatest evils the world had seen. Gary Oldman has possibly played his best ever roll as Winston Churchill. Watching this movie for the second time, all the actors and actresses like Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Lily James as the sectary, everyone did a superb job in this period drama. This is a movie that should inspire us all. I fear many people today have become weak, scared and complacent. Our freedoms we have, we take for granted. This is a dangerous attitude to have. There will be times we will have to fight must fight, even when all hope is lost.
Directed: Joe Wright Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup & Ben Mendelsohn Genre: Drama Rating: 16+ Year: 2018
Note: This book review is from Carl Strehlow, a valued member of Coffin Nation.
Photo credit: Movie Clips/YouTube
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