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Ciné Sunday: Darkest Hour

Joe Wright

While recent release Churchill covered the difficult years at the end of the Second World War when Winston Churchill’s power was waning, Darkest Hour has a very different focus, showing us the stateman’s route to power when the country most needed him.

A perfect blend of both the atmosphere and emotion of the period...

An unrecognisable Gary Oldman steps into the frame as the iconic politician, who rose from his position as a controversial backbencher to leader of the nation. The film opens as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is forced to resign, less than one year into the war. His replacement, much to the chagrin of many in his party, is the outspoken, bombastic, and determined Churchill. But as the government’s resources dwindle, and with no sign of the Americans entering the war, Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax (Stephan Dillane) pushes hard to begin peace talks with Hitler. With his supportive wife Clemmie (Kristen Scott Thomas) at his side, Churchill faces the first desperate crisis of his role as Prime Minister.

Working from a superb script by Anthony McCarten, director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) brings together a rich tapestry of impeccable set design with a tour-de-force performance by Oldman. The result is a perfect blend of both the atmosphere and emotion of the period and a complex portrait of the complicated man who shaped Britain’s history forever.