Skip to comments.In 'Darkest Hour,' Churchill Refuses to Bend the Knee
Posted on 12/18/2017 9:45:22 PM PST by Oshkalaboomboom
The two questions most people ask about a new movie are: Do I really want to see it? And, is it worth the price?
"Darkest Hour," the film starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, is definitely worth seeing now, not later. It is worth the price.
And it is required.
Because in a West under siege, in a West -- particularly the European West -- that often seems lost and almost eager to capitulate to a diminished future, "Darkest Hour" isn't merely a good film.
It is a necessary film.
It reminds us that heroes don't require magic swords, superpowers, spandex costumes or comic-book inspiration.
Heroes can be quite human, even dumpy and old and fat, egotistic and self-indulgent.
They may have lived lives of politics, which is to say lives of ambition, scheming and lies. They can drink and smoke and sleep in the afternoon.
Yet all that fades away when the time comes. It comes for everyone, and the core is revealed, if only to yourself, when you are alone.
But those times come for every nation, too, and it came for England with the British Expeditionary Force trapped at Dunkirk and Churchill's government pressing him to kneel to Germany.
What is required is an iron will, an epic stubbornness, a refusal to listen to reasonable voices that would reasonably help bend the knee.
In "Darkest Hour," and in the other films about Churchill that I've seen, there is a hint about where the iron will comes from: the expectations of the British aristocracy on the young; the severe schools, the punishments, the obligations placed on the ruling class to serve the empire.
In America, we infantilize our young, and some remain boys and girls until middle age, and we make heroes of athletes and actors and entertainers. But not in the England of that time.
For the aristocracy, the will was also molded by the kind of literature that helped shape the empire, which, along with the British Navy and its guns, reinforced Great Britain's place, ruling the seas.
It was the literature that reinforced all this in the minds of its ruling class, that they were the conservators of the West. And Churchill was a most literate man.
Many Churchill films -- including this one -- rely on the writings of the Whig statesman, Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, to illustrate this point.
Oldman's Churchill recites from Macaulay while at his darkest hour, facing enemies and allies who want the nation to kneel because it would be the prudent thing to do.
"And how can man die better/ Than facing fearful odds/ For the ashes of his fathers/ And the temples of his Gods."
Others have pointed out one glaring false note in the film: Churchill reciting Macaulay while riding on the underground train, talking with the people about what they want to do.
But his admiration for Macaulay was not false. He devoured Macaulay as a young man. And Macaulay's version of Horatio at the Bridge is the story of England in World War II, the story of Winston Churchill in the London bunker in the dark with his whiskey and his cigar.
Why is Churchill so fascinating, even today?
He was a great orator, a fine writer, devious in the use of rhetoric, and all that -- plus his appetites -- make him a fascinating character.
But we have seen other fine orators, most recently, orators silky and smooth and beloved by modern mythmakers. And as the oratory fades, the blood and chaos of Libya and Syria overwhelm much of Europe.
What makes Churchill fascinating isn't the oratory.
He refused to bend his knee. He refused to listen to the voices of reason that told him appeasement with Germany was the prudent course to save his people.
And with his army trapped at Dunkirk, with the United States avoiding the war, with the United Kingdom exhausted, those voices of reason became even more reasonable, powerful and insistent.
If he had capitulated, and Germany took England, the United States could never have invaded France. Great Britain would have belonged to Hitler.
So the story is absolutely compelling. And the acting is so good, you forget Oldman is acting.
He should win an Oscar for his Churchill, the meatiest, most intimidating role for a British actor.
Brendan Gleeson did a great job with Churchill in "Into the Storm," although that film didn't have the budget of this one. Richard Burton and Albert Finney have played him, and Brian Cox has a new Churchill movie too.
Even the late Simon Ward, the actor cursed with a pretty Englishman's face, was excellent playing a callow youth in "Young Winston."
And Gary Oldman has the Oscar buzz now.
"You're asked to play who many would consider the greatest Brit who ever lived, an iconic British figure with all the ghosts of the other people who have played him," Oldman was quoted as saying. "I thought, I don't know what I could bring to it."
He brought himself. That was enough. And the filmmakers brought Macaulay.
Lord Macaulay isn't Churchill's alone. Macaulay greets me every morning at the Tribune tower, as one of his quotes is carved into stone above a door.
"Where there is a free press, the governors must live in constant awe of the opinions of the governed."
Do yourself a favor.
See "Darkest Hour."
You might think it necessary, too.
Obama can’t wait to see the movie.
I wonder what Churchill would think of how all of his efforts led to the EU and the Muslim invasion?
“I wonder what Churchill would think of how all of his efforts led to the EU and the Muslim invasion”?
Which of Churchill’s efforts/policies led to the EU or Muslims invading Europe?
I remember when England was a real country.
I am reading Churchill’s Magnum Opus 6 volume memiors of WWII.
It is a superhuman task.
Each volume is about 700 pages! Apparently he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. It is a massive sea of brilliant analyses of how he managed to survive and ultimately achieve total victory in the face of both the German and Japanese juggernauts.
Anybody who reads this massive work will begin to see parallels between post-WWI, interwar years, WWII and today’s appeasement modes by the West.
Trump invited congressional members of both parties to the WH for a screening - the first time I’ve heard of him doing this.
I don’t want to give money to Hollywood, but maybe an exception here.
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
If Hollywood is producing films that are pro-American, pro-freedom, why not support Hollywood. Reward good behavior.
Churchill had to deal with both the ETO and PTO.
He struggles (alone) to shuffle forces globally while maintaining enough of a reserve to repel an expected invasion of Britain (”Sea Lion”) that never came.
It is amazing to see British loss after loss and and ever increasing menace to Australia only to see the US enter the war and begin gearing up for a long term counter strike.
What one sees is that England stood alone and was supplied by FDR. After Pearl Harbor Churchill knew it was the beginning of the end for the Axis powers. Absolutely fascinated and his prose are what one would expect from the very elite of English society.
I am enjoying every moment.
Churchill advocated for a United States of Europe.
They were screening the Movie at the White House this evening. POTUS Trump invited both Rats and Republicans to see it.
Maybe they learned something.
Winston Churchill is one of my favorite historical figures but unfortunately, in my financial situation, I’m going to have to wait to Red Box this movie. Can’t wait to see this!!
Might be interesting to see who showed up at the WH to view this film.
He was GREAT in “State of Grace”.
An underrated gangster film about the Irish NY Westies.
Im looking forward to seeing this movie.
“BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI”
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