5 stars out of a possible 5.
I rarely award a maximum rating to either a film or a book, but Darkest Hour is truly exceptional. It would be impossible to award less than five stars, because this is as near to perfection as any movie could ever be. From the script-writing to the portrayals of the characters and stories; from the makeup and costumes to the sets and cinematography, this film is flawless.
It is no surprise to me that Darkest Hour has been nominated for no less than nine BAFTA awards and six Academy (Oscar) awards this year. For me, the most deserving nominations in both of these organisations are those for Best Actor and for Best Makeup and Hair.
Gary Oldman is a wonderful actor. His portrayal of Winston Churchill is amazing. I was nine years old when Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral cortege made its way to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. I was at prep school in Derbyshire at the time and we were herded into the classroom of the sixth formers to listen to the commentary and service on the radio. Television was not so prolific in those times, so we could not watch it. There was great respect for the great man. We learned a lot from our teachers and from the books that we had to read at the time. I remember being excited by accounts of his involvement as a war correspondent in the Second Boer War.
Winston Churchill was by no means flawless. He smoked and drank heavily. He inhaled cigars, which he almost chain-smoked, yet he lived to the age of ninety. He also had to contend with many objectors within his own party. All of this is very well represented in the film. The producers have been very brave to show it how it was.
As for the makeup and costumes, I cannot say much more than that they are very convincing. I have read that Gary Oldman was in makeup for five hours each day. That is on top of a whole day of shooting. It was four hours being made up and getting the hair right and another hour to remove it all at the end of each day. Great credit must go to Kazuhiro Tsuji, Lucy Sibbick and David Malinowski for their spectacular work.
The way that the story is told is gripping. There are many revelations of how Second World War history unfolded. My view is that there is much fiction, particularly in the conversations and interactions, woven around a core of truth. This is exactly what I love about historical fiction.
I am not going to tell you the story. You must make the effort to see the film if you have not done so already. However, I just want to tell you that my favourite scene in the film is when Winston is travelling on the underground train with everyday folks. He is instantly recognisable and the people open up to him. He builds a good rapport with them and what he learns from them in those few minutes, confirms his beliefs. That incident influences his subsequent actions.
Finally, I would say that the film must be enough to stir the patriotic feelings of every true Brit, no matter how deeply they are buried.
I watched this film on St Valentine’s Day 2018 and I am very proud to be British. I love my country.
Whoever you are. Wherever you live. Whatever your nationality or beliefs, I commend this masterpiece of cinema to you. Book your place and go and see it. Tell me what you think, whether you agree or disagree with my opinions.