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Robert Cosgrove
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 16 January 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1682
Posted: 30 December 2017 at 1:25pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I've been looking forward to seeing this movie, which covers the period of Churchill's ascension to the prime ministership through the evacuation of Dunkirk, and it did not disappoint.   There are some fictionalizations that one could quarrel with, most notably Churchill's subway (tube) ride, where the common citizens of London stiffen his resolve in the face of pressure to negotiate with Hitler, but Gary Oldman's performance as Churchill is excellent, as are most of the supporting performances, including that of the actress who plays Churchill's wife, Clementine.  The movie really brings home just how grim the situation was that Churchill faced, and his initial, tenuous grasp on power.  As the movie correctly depicts, the king was not at all enamored at the prospect of Churchill as his prime minister, but his assessment gradually changed.  I suspect that the scene where he comes to visit Churchill and express his support is fiction, though I do not know.  Just why the king's attitude changes in the movie is never really satisfying to me, but I suspect that it was a limitation of time, also probably accounting for the brevity of scenes of Churchill in France.  There is a brief, but telling phone call with FDR.    Interestingly, very little is shown of the actual Dunkirk evacuation, although we do see some of the doomed soldiers Churchill had to sacrifice in Calais to buy time for the Dunkirk operation.  I will see this again.
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John Byrne

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 110267
Posted: 30 December 2017 at 1:55pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

...Gary Oldman's performance...

In which, based on the trailers, he does not do The Voice. For me, a mystery and a deal killer.

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Brian Floyd
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 07 July 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 5869
Posted: 30 December 2017 at 9:09pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I agree.

Oldman is an excellent actor, but him not doing a proper version of Churchill's voice is definitely something that will be hard to stomach. Will wait for cable or Netflix for it.




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Jozef Brandt
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Joined: 03 March 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 2351
Posted: 10 January 2018 at 4:56am | IP Logged | 4 post reply


I just saw the movie, and the voice came out during some of the big speeches.  Even though his tube ride was most likely fiction, I found it quite moving.  Like the screenwriter William Goldman, I'm a sucker for "stupid courage" and Darkest Hour pushed the right buttons for me I guess.  Oldman was quite remarkable.  Kristin Scott Thomas plays Clementine and was also very solid.  My measure with an actor in a role is usually that I stop thinking of them as the actor.  (The bigger the star, the harder this is to accomplish, which means when a big star can manage, it's usually a big deal for me). 

I think it was more important that they did not portray Churchill as a cartoon as many other depictions have.  The prosthetics on Oldman were seamless, and his mannerisms matched up with the footage of Churchill that we have seen.

On the way home from the theater, I found a podcast episode of the Jon Batchelor show where he interviewed the author of a book all about the War Cabinet of Churchill, (the interview was from a few years ago).  The movie matched up with the real events fairly well.  One fact that stood out to me that was left out of the movie was that Lord Halifax actually had met Hermann Goering and had gone fox hunting with him, which seems like a zinger they could have put in the movie, but maybe they didn't want Halifax (played with stern stuff by Steven Dillane) to be so obviously "THE BAD GUY" of the picture.  The other thing that they didn't really solidify is that Neville Chamberlain's "change of heart" at the end, was motivated by his belief that if the British could stave off an attack, they'd be able to negotiate a better deal with Hitler.  He died before he could pursue that any further.  Churchill then had Halifax sent to the United States (against his will). 

Anyway, I was impressed with the movie, which appears to have been shot on location in the War Cabinet rooms and other real places.  I don't usually call attention to the Cinematography, but it was quite imaginative and avoids being "stagey" despite a lot of scenes of people talking. 

I really think if you have any interest in the subject matter you should see the movie.  Maybe they chose poor scenes for the trailer, but he does sound like Churchill.  I was surprised how well I knew some of the speeches, especially the Blood, Tears, Toil, and Sweat speech and of course the "Never surrender" speech. 

Great stuff.  Seems like a good companion piece to Dunkirk.
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Jozef Brandt
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 03 March 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 2351
Posted: 04 February 2018 at 12:30am | IP Logged | 5 post reply


Sorry to bump a sinking thread, but I have just finished the 4th volume of Churchill's autobiography (inspired by watching this film).  It's been fascinating stuff.  I appreciated that it was not just Churchill's hindsight of events, it is a mixture of his letters/telegrams/minutes of the moment, so you have documentation of what he said and when he said it. 

The film does not stray from the documented truth very much, although I'm still sure that the "Train" scene was invented.  Churchill talks about gauging public mood a few times, but doesn't write about having a conversation with ordinary folks on a train. 

Once the Blitz started, he did take walks in public, though, and people emerging from bomb shelters were always surprised to see him.

It's also interesting to read about various "mysteries" that have since been solved such as the Katyn Massacre: the death of 20,000 Polish prisoners of war by the Soviets.  (They blamed the Nazis and vice versa at the time). Churchill, while inclined to think the USSR was behind it, says that it is up to the reader to decide.  In the 90s it was proven that the Soviets had in fact done it on Stalin's orders.

Anyway, if nothing else, the movie has inspired me to learn more.
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