Throw Back to SCAD Film Fest 2017: Darkest Hour

 

“You have enemies? Good.That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.”- you’ve probably heard this quote before, it’s one of Winston Churchill’s most famous. In Joe Wright's newest war drama Darkest Hour, we really get to know the voice of where this quote comes from. For those who don’t know, Winston Churchill was a prominent historical figure in the mid-20th century, particularly around World War II. He became prime minister of Britain in 1940 until 1945 and played a large role in our victory over the Nazi party. He was a statesman, army officer, writer and also served as prime minister again from 1951 to 1955.

Played by the incredibly talented Gary Oldman, (the Dark Knight series, Harry Potter series) Winston Churchill must’ve been a difficult character to capture. Besides the body shape and thick British accent, Oldman was also met by the challenge of generally depicting the unique personality and attitude of this famous leader. Oldman doesn’t let us down for a second in his performance, and it’s fantastic just how he much he came across as this blunt, wise, cigar smoking inspiration.

Oldman’s dynamics with others characters holds up just as well: he has us giggling at the relationship between Churchill and his wife, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, and smiling and at the edge of our seats with his friendship with Churchill’s typist, played by Lily James. Never for a moment are we taken out of the narrative in terms of how these characters played off of each other. Each instance was evocative, sincere and kept us immersed in the story.

The film itself it packs in an enormous amount of emotion in every scene. From Oldman’s representation of Churchill’s quirky jokes and sarcasm, to the devastations of war and loss, to the inspirational words that flow from Oldman’s lips as he sinks deeper and deeper into the uncanny portrayal of Churchill.

What I found to be one of the most magnificent qualities in this film was the gorgeous cinematography. French cinematographer Bruno delbonnel (also know for Dark Shadows, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) really outdoes himself here. From unique, dynamic angles that treat our eyes, to wider shots that put us in awe of the moment, this film is beautifully shot through and through.

The film takes place in what can be seen as Churchill’s rise to fame, in early 1940 when he became prime minister and proved to be a great help in saving the soldiers at the battle of Dunkirk. Seeing this film after seeing Christopher Nolan’s recent work titled Dunkirk, (which tells the story of the battle from the soldiers’ perspective), was quite interesting. These two films, together, tell the full story of Dunkirk, one from the frontline perspective, the other from a more behind the scenes perspective of the efforts made to save these men. Watching the two back to back would possibly make for a fantastic full narrative of this World War II battle.

If you’re a war movie buff, love Gary Oldman or just are curious about this beautiful piece of work, I would strongly suggest seeing this film if you haven't already.