Yesterday, I noticed Amazon had Darkest Hour on sale for only $9.99 (for streaming video). I had saved up $7 worth of video credit by having my orders shipped on the slow boat to Florida and so I snatched it for only $2.99. Woot!
In short, it was an amazing movie and an amazing performance by Gary Oldman. It is one of those rare movies I could watch time and time again (I think).
There are two dangers in how one perceives the past and the present. Some idolize the present while disdaining the past. Others, clearly see the ridiculousness in the present while romanticizing the past. I’m admittedly in the latter group. Pericles! Marcus Aurelius! Churchill! Ah, if only they were alive today…
Perhaps, having a blind spot for the past but a realistic eye for the present is better than the idolatry found the other way around, but one can easily fall into idolatry with the past too.
Back to the movie… The Churchill in the movie is a man with faults like anyone else. He is an impulsive and occasionally rude man with an insatiable and unhealthy diet and yet–he had conviction. (Plus, he lived to 90 with his daily cigars, fatty foods, and heavy drinking). This movie maintains the extraordinary without falling into idolatry. I like that.
A few scenes stuck out for me.
First, the humor. The story focuses on his words–he mobilized the English language after all–and therefore, the second most important character in the movie is his typist. She is a young girl who helps teach Churchill what it means to be a normal, everyday Briton. Churchill works on his speeches everywhere–in bed, at his desk, while walking, or in the bath and the young lady dutifully types or takes notes on paper. One scene has Churchill in the bath with the girl taking notes as he shouts words through the door. Suddenly he stops dictating and says, “Miss, I’m coming out in a state of nature.” Panic fills the girls eyes and she hastily exits. Ha!
The other was very eye-opening and perhaps the Churchillian scholar can tell me if this is true. I didn’t realize his most famous speech–We shall fight on the beaches (never surrender) was given prior to the Dunkirk miracle. In other words, he believed only 10% of the entire British military would likely be rescued AS HE gave the speech.
What a remarkable man.
What a remarkable movie.