Darkest Hour

ABR Arts is generously supported by ABR Patrons and Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
Brian McFarlane Monday, 08 January 2018
Published in ABR Arts

Who knows why, but there have been at least three films in recent months focusing on the Dunkirk evacuation: Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest, Christopher Nolan’s magisterial Dunkirk. and now Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour. Unsurprisingly in view of this, we have also seen a lot of Winston Churchill on our screens. It is a role that attracts formidable acting talents. Wright’s film juggles the personal and the political with some skill. His Churchill is concerned to fight to the end, with his eye on victory rather than peace, and this might be said of his dealings with colleagues as well as with the enemy.

Darkest Hour is necessarily talky. This is not essentially an action piece, or at least not the kind of action which might have been suggested by the opening black-and-white images of military men and ammunition. Much of the film’s drama is in the talk, which will inevitably makes its way via ‘toil, tears and sweat’ to the ultimate ‘We shall fight them on the beaches’ and so on, until ‘We shall never surrender’. But it works more subtly than this might suggest. Much of the talk is about matters that require argument: for example, the deposing of Neville Chamberlain following his misplaced appeasement venture and bringing Churchill on in the wake of this; or dealing with the idea of Italian mediation between Britain and Germany; or in the actuality of preparing for the Dunkirk rescue operation and how the situation in France has determined this.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in ABR Arts
Brian McFarlane

Brian McFarlane

Brian McFarlane’s latest book is Four from the Forties: Arliss, Crabtree, Knowles and Huntington, Manchester: MUP, 2018. He has had three overlapping careers, as teacher, academic, and writer. He is the author or editor of over twenty books and hundreds of articles and reviews on film and literature and related matters. He co-edited The Oxford Companion to Australian Film and was compiler, editor and chief author of The Encyclopedia of British Film. His most recent books include: Twenty British Films: A guided tour and Double-Act: The remarkable lives and careers of Googie Withers and John McCallum. He is currently serving as Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University of Technology and as Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University.

Comments (2)

  • Leave a comment

    That ought to have read :' English language...' ... of course - but it works curiously well as it stands, erroneous but poetic?

    Tuesday, 30 January 2018 11:45 posted by Rosemary OGrady
  • Leave a comment

    Gary Oldman & Kristin Scott Thomas had their work cut out for them following in the glittering footsteps of Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave (The Gathering Storm) - but they convince and impress. 'Talky' is not a word I'd have chosen to describe what must have been a considered directorial/script decision - the film works precisely because of the management of the great speeches, as yr reviewer acknowledges at the end, and which goes to the essence of Churchill - he 'mobilised' the English - languish and nation/people. Most poignant scene in the film? WSC and Geo.VI - weighed down with fear and isolation -gathering strength. Unforgettable.

    Wednesday, 24 January 2018 12:57 posted by Rosemary OGrady

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.