Reading Clementine Churchill by Sonia Purnell a couple of years ago sparked an interest in seeing the new movie called Darkest Hour. Purnell gave a well-researched and intimate look at this loving couple though it focused on Clementine’s role in her famous husband’s life. It further proved that there is usually a woman behind every great man. The book offered details of their daily lives so when I viewed the movie, I quietly agreed that Kristin Scott Thomas captured Clemmie’s essence.
But more importantly, this movie showed the inner tickings of Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) as he wrestled with his new responsibility as Prime Ministet at the height of the German invasions under Hitler. Churchill’s war cabinet wanted to negotiate with Germany in the face of terror, fear and the loss of many young soldiers.
Most of the movie pinpoints a few days in the month of May when he painstakingly weighed his options. Will he lead the country into eternal servitude to a greater power? Will he buckle under the pressure because few believe in him or his rationale?
Clemmie soothes and reassures him and tells him that he has what it takes. King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) finally lets Churchill know that he has his full support though other key members of Parliament doubt his judgment. And then, he decides to ask the people. There is a memorable scene of Churchill getting on the subway and actually talking with the everyday working people. Though shocked to see him, he opens up a conversation and they all vow that they should never surrender.
He writes a speech with the help of his dutiful typist Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) and the movie ends with him giving a major speech. The rest, they say, is history.
I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill. “If you are going through hell, keep going.” He kept going and I think that Gary Oldman could possibly be taking home a little gold statue called Oscar!
Lynn M. January 27, 2018