If you’re longing for those weirdly attractive British accents, the royal corgis and history lessons that come with a side of popcorn, Darkest Hour is the film to see this long weekend.
We met Churchill in the opening episodes of The Crown season one, as the ageing politician struggling to let go of ‘the way things have always been done’ in a ‘modern’ world.
But if not for his tenacity to go against the opinions of powerful men decades earlier, those traditions may not have survived to hold onto.
Darkest Hour is nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the wartime Prime Minister.
Oldman’s Churchill is at the height of his political career, ascending into the office of the Prime Minister at a time when the invasion of Nazi Germany into Britain seemed imminent, and he was not expected to succeed at stopping it.
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The film centres around the 1940 extraction of 300,000 British troops from the French coastal beach of Dunkirk, whom without, England wouldn’t have had the armed forces to prevent Germany from invading British shores.
Against the agenda of his party, predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, and even a young King George VI, who we saw as one of Churchill’s closest confidants in The Crown, Churchill sparked what would become the Allies’ victory of the second world war.
For anyone who’s seen fellow Oscar nominee Dunkirk, Darkest Hour provides a fascinating reminder of the logistics and sacrifices that happened behind the scenes to get those men off the beach, and deciding which men’s lives were worth saving.
The movie covers a lot of ground, without Dunkirk’s action or The Crown’s glamour. It’s dense – but in a good way. If you enjoyed the way The Crown weaved its narrative through history, you’ll immediately deep dive into Churchill’s life.
Who was his wife, Clementine? And Lily James' plucky secretary, Elizabeth Layton? Did Churchill really drink a whole bottle of champagne at lunch, and another at dinner? And did that London tube scene really play out as it did on-screen?
You'll find pockets of humour in unlikely places, which add much-needed light to a story so entrenched in history. You'll also see glimpses of humanity from Churchill, who history remembers as an unreasonable, ill-tempered man. But also, as one of the greatest ever wartime leaders.
Although Darkest Hour doesn't have the scandal and romance that makes The Crown so brilliantly binge-worthy, Churchill's story - as the man who had no choice to succeed, is equally captivating.
Darkest Hour is in cinemas now.
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