Winston Churchill travels the streets of London at a time that is bright for him, and painful for the country. He is about to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the midst of a war with Nazis that threaten the very core of the Empire. Upon entering the second-third of the narrative, the character represents a recurring nightmare, Winston Churchill making the same journey, in the same car, probably helped by the same driver, but with each time, something changed. Darkest Hour a story told by director Joe Wright and screenwriter Anthony McCarten with an Oscar bait written all over it, takes us on a journey that highlights from the personal and luminous moments of a Winston Churchill that felt abandoned, who went on to become the Prime Minister when a young king is on the throne and situations tense. The tone is precise: we see everything from the perspective of Churchill. For that, it was necessary precisely what Darkest Hour executes. Firstly, an actor with solidity and size, who here bears the name of Gary Oldm
an, the name which is as consistent as it was long ago, but was not seen as forceful and as deadly in an external transformation indispensable for the role that he uses only to give us the picture of Churchill, to get into his mind, to soak up his ideas. Everyone is talking about the physical transformation of Gary Oldman, but for him it was no more than a necessary step to communicate the behaviour of the sometimes tormented, sometimes inspired, sometimes decadent and sometimes antiquated Prime Minister, because the film is supported in that interior and not in the physique of the character or the interpreter. Adorning Oldman’s work is the very mobile camera of Bruno Delbonnel and a montage that, despite the agitated situations that England suffers in this story, manages to lock us even more inside the head of Churchill : there are bombings in London, suggested and not evidenced (in the end we see the war from a place of privilege, that of the politicians); there is a Churchill encapsulated in the frame in a moment of doubt and despair; there are three tours through London, the threatening zeniths of the Nazi attacks, the labyrinth of the Prime Minister’s office bunker described and exploited with a subtle and at the same time claustrophobic drama: the English island is a confinement and inside it, is London, and inside London, the bunker and inside the bunker, a Winston Churchill that encloses us in his thoughts. Afterwards, the story, within the tone is not that of the victorious and triumphant hero who paints himself as a Caesar without blemish ends. On the contrary, in the joint work of execution, direction, assembly and script, Churchill is at the same time, caught up in his insecurities and in the games of political betrayal by an English bureaucracy concerned with itself and not with solutions to a conflict that went beyond understanding of many, afraid of losing privileges before facing the threat to the freedoms of their governed. Without being a declaration of rights or principles, Darkest Hour manages to paint the rusty gear of English politics in times of war and manages to describe another internal war, of the interests of a political group which forgets its purpose. The two wars that Winston Churchill fights here are intertwined and describe an act that, from outside, seems heroic but from within, forces us to understand more of the sacrifices of a people caught amidst a war, people that endured a spiraling fall (watch its counterpart: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk), people who expected the best from those who governed them, and people long forgotten by strategists and politicians. Is Darkest hour a tribute to the English people? That seems to be the last surprise despite a sequence that exudes falsehood in which Churchill faces his governed in the most direct way possible, and yet it is. They were the ones who suffered and survived enemy fire. They were the ones who took rifles to confront the old Nazi ideology? and they who unmasked (with all their reverence for a crown that already expired) the old politicians who wanted to live forever. The film uses Churchill as a catalyst for all that but uses it with full knowledge. Asking Darkest hour for a realistic and not very symbolic approach would be not only an error but nonsense. By locking ourselves in the mind of Churchill, in a storm of doubts and insecurities, of mistakes and risky successes, the film seeks more of a critical point towards the political classes and their selfish approaches, and a direct bombardment of the cowardice of past or present totalitarianism. It must be remembered that Churchill was devoured by time, which a few years after the end of the Second World War, showed the most outdatedness of his political thought, which was now obsolete for the second half of a century that was beginning to think about the future. But we must not forget that in response to this political selfishness, by looking and understanding the people fighting the war, he managed to give a break to England until the second front managed to open up collapsing Nazi strategies. Asking for a movie with more action than words, with more exterior than ideas would be equally disproportionate. Churchill was a man of speeches; much of his work in politics was done based on them. To an extent that the film could have been narrated within a single office. Given this, the response of the assembly and the symbols is a success (not lacking in flaws and some exaggeration) and the execution of Oldman is but the last nut of the machinery, one that gives drama to those speeches but also makes it clear that while Churchill defeated the old patriotism by establishing a relatively new one, the character was also devoured by time. I formulate everything? Maybe, but we must make it clear that the film is not afraid to show that facet of Churchill, that of the downhill, that of the thought that does not change, that of the direction that is not corrected. In doing so, it delivers a message that belongs more to the people and less to the rulers. In the end, the Second World War was a fight of egos and patriotism had already expired in the 21st century. To portray these figures with lights and darkness is a necessary exercise in our times to know that those egos and monolithic thoughts cannot be repeated, wherever they come from. Director: Joe Wright Cast: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane Script: Anthony McCarten Photography: Bruno Delbonnel Duration: 125 min.