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Old January 19th, 2018, 08:52 AM
ashdoc ashdoc is offline
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Ashdoc's movie review---Darkest hour

'Darkest hour' centres around Winston Churchill from the time he was made prime minister of Britain till the evacuation of British troops from the french port of Dunkirk during world war 2 . The movie starts with the removal of former prime minister Neville Chamberlain from his post for failing to confront Hitler . Majority of the cabinet wants Lord Halifax to be PM , but he feels his time is not yet come . So the onus falls on Churchill to be PM .

Churchill's wife and children raise a toast for his elevation , but privately Churchill tells his wife that making him PM during Britain's darkest hour is like taking revenge . Obviously if anything goes wrong as it seems will happen , then Churchill can be made scapegoat . It is upto him to prove his detractors wrong and make history .

But the movie does not glorify Churchill and does not just show the fiery speeches that he gave , but also concentrates on his private moments . And many of them are filled with self doubt and even tears . Also many of his private moments are spent on his commode in the WC phoning allies like US president Roosevelt . And many moments are disappointing , like when the US president says he cannot give the fifty warships Churchill wants as he is bound by the neutrality act .

His female secretary/stenographer ( played by Lily James ) is witness to many of these happenings . When the British army is surrounded at Dunkirk and she does not understand the situation , he personally takes her to the war room to show the situation on map . And watches her tears flow as she comes to know....her brother is trapped there never to return you see....Churchill just keeps on looking at her face....

His plan to ask 4000 British soldiers to divert the Germans on themselves so that those trapped in Dunkirk can escape does not receive the support of anyone , but he pushes the plan and those soldiers are sacrificed . His wife ( played by Kristin Scott Thomas ) is his pillar of strength , egging him on to fight the nazis . King George VI ( played by Ben Mendelsohn ) would plainly have preferred to have Lord Halifax as PM , as he admits to Churchill . But later he warms up to Churchill , visiting him in his all too humble quarters asking him to reach out to the people . And Churchill is shown doing just that ; a fictitious journey is invented by the moviemakers in which Churchill travels through the London underground to asses British public opinion about the war . And the opinion of all is not to surrender .

But behind the scenes there are people willing to negotiate with Hitler , and they want Churchill out because of his adamant opinion that war is a must to preserve western civilisation . Leading them are Lord Halifax and Chamberlain , who is dying of cancer . They consider him a drunkard and a man who has only 4 good ideas among 100 , with the rest 96 being bad ideas . Indeed Churchill is shown forever drinking and smoking a cigar . But the speech he makes in parliament makes him unstoppable . ''We shall fight them on the beaches , we shall fight with growing confidence in the air'' he says . And promises to carry the fight across the seas if Britain shall fall .

The speech makes a rousing climax to the movie and Gary Oldman has wonderfully acted every bit of his part as Churchill , making us feel as if the PM himself was with us making the speeches . He is helped by the some great music as background score and good photography . What would disappoint an ordinary viewer is the fact that there are no action scenes . Ultimately Churchill's decision to send civilian boats to evacuate the British soldiers stranded at Dunkirk proves to be right as the boats manage a successful evacuation , but you will have to see the movie 'Dunkirk' for that . This movie is about what went on in the centres of power in Britain's darkest hour .

Verdict---decent .

Three stars out of five .
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