Golden Globe nominee, Darkest Hour is the companion piece to another stalwart film Dunkirk. Together they show the grit and power of a people who would never give in to tyranny. The direction, writing, acting and filming of both movies are a tribute to the film industry and the brave men of the British Empire that lost their lives in WWII.
It’s May 9th, 1940 and the war rages in Europe with the Luftwaffe Airforce and Panzer tanks ripping up countries unable to defend themselves. As of this date in the movie we find 300,000 British Forces with their backs to the sea at Dunkirk, France as the Nazis move in for the kill. Also on this day the House of Commons is in turmoil with the Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup), resigning his post. In a search for his replacement King George IV (Ben Mendelsohn) chooses Sir Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman).
It’s a very dark time for Brittan having lagged behind with their air force due to bad decisions by the government and trying to play catch up. Coming to France’s aid has stranded thousands of British troops and has expended a large amount battle casualties. They have started pulling out, but it’s almost hopeless for the British military to ferry the surviving soldiers in retreat across the English Channel. But, Churchill will not stand down and allow his country to be slaughtered without a fight.
In a fabulous show of talent, Gary Oldman plays the steadfast new Prime Minister who digs into his job under deeply dark circumstances and with the House of Commons not ready to back him. He creates a man determined to defend what’s left of England even if they have to “throw stones” at the incoming Hitler lead Nazi’s with their impenetrable tanks and outnumbering aircraft. Oldman is impressive and takes the starring role way beyond many of those who will be probably be nominated this year for Oscar fame.
The film comes out in the same year as Dunkirk, a strong contender for Oscar honors. I feel that Darkest Hour can be considered a companion piece to that film as the two pieces of history run simultaneously. Connected with events of the war, it was the push by Churchill in Darkest Hour and his fateful decision that allowed the convoy of privately owned yachts, trawlers, fishing boats and other pleasure sailors to make an attempt to get to the stranded soldiers at Dunkirk to bring them home to safety.
If you could get a chance to see the two movies, chose Darkest Hour first, then watch the results of one of the most devastating war efforts of WWII in Dunkirk. Darkest Hour has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic material. Dunkirk is also rated PG-13, but contains an intense war experience including the depiction of army and civilian lives being lost.
FINAL ANALYSIS: The Darkest Hour is thrilling depiction of a defining moment of WII. (4 out of 5 stars)
Additional Film Information
Cast: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones, Samuel West, David Schofield, Richard Lumsden, Malcolm Storry
Directed by: Joe Wright
Genre: Drama, Biography, History
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic material
Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.
Release Date: December 22, 2017
Distributed by: Focus Features