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April 11, 2018

Darkest Hour (2018) --- "Former Prime Minister Refused To Negotiate Peace With Hitler. His Speeches Will Make You Cheer."

Plot Summary
A thrilling and inspiring true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
- Halifax (about Churchill)
     Now I must first point out that I am a huge history buff so I have a bigger inclination towards liking this film, especially since it was done very well. When it comes to telling the story of someone as well-known as Winston Churchill during World War 2, being exciting and historically accurate is not easy. And yet this film somehow goes beyond expectations. Director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice; Anna Karenina) has an eye for creating captivating films with just the right tone and setting, and in his latest endeavor, Darkest Hour (2017) we see the same craftsmanship. Darkest Hour is riveting account of one of the most important moments of World War 2.

     The story is written by Anthony McCarten (Theory Of Everything) and follows England in May of 1940 when Churchill is appointed Prime Minister and immediately he has to deal with the entrapment of almost the entire British Army on the coast of Dunkirk. If England falls it could very well be the end of freedom in Europe and soon after the rest of the world. As a result, his war cabinet wants to negotiate peace with Hitler in exchange for supporting Hitler as he rules over all of Europe. But despite a sea of voices favoring the peace talks, Churchill is adamant in fighting Hitler until the very end. To be the lone resistance against a tyrant after so many of their comrades have fallen, and (in his own words) with God's grace the New World will join the fight in time.
     It is widely documented that Adolph Hitler fully believed that he could sue for peace with England immediately after defeating France but we know that it was Winston Churchill who kept that from happening. I am sure that even now some Russians believe that they could have still defeated Germany, and perhaps they could have but at what cost and how long. It is difficult to predict what would have happened had the Nazis secured peace. But one thing is for certain, England – and the rest of Western civilization – may not have survived in the manner in which it did had Operation Dynamo failed and had Churchill not rallied the support of the British people to fight back. The final scene in which Churchill delivers one of his famous speeches is the moment in which Hitler truly loses the opportunity to take control over the rest of Europe. The speech is impactful and inspiring, I don’t see how anyone could hear it and not be motivated to fight.
     The majority of the story focuses on Churchill as being in the center of a storm and praises his bulldog spirit – of fighting to the last man – in a relatable light. There are so many hilarious moments where Churchill’s quirky and determined personality clashes with the uptight politicians of Westminster. The humor is done in a way that doesn’t make it a comedy but rather points out the eccentricities in the main character which is part of the reason why Churchill is so respected to this day. In addition to being hilarious, this film is passionate in its depiction of the darkest hours of war and has a way of inspiring people to fight and defend their freedom to the last man. The internal conflict that Churchill faces makes for a riveting focal point and the tension builds stunningly. The importance of these events are never downplayed with the remembrance of intense and emotional moments in history – such as the sacrifice of 4,000 troops at the Siege of Calais so as to rescue 300,000 troops stranded on the coast of Dunkirk or the possible evacuation of the Royal Family to Canada where they would rule in exile – that make this film so much more than just history.  I am sure that British audience will find this to be more emotional due to the story but I believe that its mostly due to well-developed nature of Churchill’s character is.
     Gary Oldman (RoboCop; The Space Between Us) has 88 acting credits under his belt and in his latest role as Winston Churchill, it is obvious why he is such a phenomenal actor. For this role alone Oldman has received more than 20 awards – this includes an Oscars, a Golden Globes, a BAFTA, a SAGA, and many more – which is the greatest indication of how great an actor is in portraying a character. His portrayal of this character is insightful and unforgettable as he creates an exceptionally convincing portrayal of the great man and the immediate situations surrounding him after his new appointment. The makeup team and costume department make him almost unrecognizable unless you look into his eyes which are still an enigma since his role as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films. The other notable performances lie with Lilly James (Cinderella), Kristen Scott-Thomas (The English Patient), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One), and Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones) all give a strong performance. James is quirky as new secretary writer Elizabeth Layton, Scott-Thomas is beautiful as the wife Clemmie Churchill, Mendelsohn is superb as the embattled and calm King George VI, and Dillane is great as the antagonistic yet sincere Halifax.
     Overall, Darkest Hour (2017) is a riveting and exciting historical drama about a crucial turning point in during World War 2. But beyond that, this film brings humor, passion, and visuals to every moment, and manages to be patriotic without being nationalistic. Joe Wright’s direction is passionate, Anthony McCarten’s screenplay is brilliant, and Gary Oldman’s performance of Winston Churchill is powerful and stunning. Someday in the future, there may be an even better film about Winston Churchill but for now, this is the best one to date. It is no wonder why this film has received over 20 wins and nominations. I highly recommend this film to everyone.

NOTE: For his full closing speech click VIDEO and WRITTEN.

"You can not reason with a Tiger when your head is in its mouth."
- Winston Churchill

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  10 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  10 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Anna Karenina (2012)
Churchill (2017)
Churchill's Secret (2016)
Dunkirk (2017)
Denial (2016)
Exception, The (2016)
Gathering Storm, The (2002)
Into the Storm (2008)
Imitation Game (2014)
King's Speech (2010)
Lady Bird (2017)
Unbroken (2014)
Zookeeper's Wife (2017)

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