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Movie reviews are not part of my usual literary
trappings, but occasionally I watch a movie that really grabs my attention. As
a rule, my wife and I rarely watch movies, either at home or in the theater.
we had made no particular plans for New Years Eve, we decided after church to
enjoy a restful afternoon at home. I had already purchased tickets for the
6:20pm showing of the acclaimed Darkest Hour movie about Winston Churchill’s
rise to power as England’s prime minister at a most critical juncture in what
would become known as World War Two.
hardly consider myself a connoisseur of the art of film-making, but I love
history and Darkest Hour gives us a window into a one-month span in the
embattled times of England as it stood on the brink of catastrophe. Their army
of some 300,000 men was facing annihilation by the German Army of the Third
Reich. Pinned down on the beaches of Dunkirk, France with their backs to the
English Channel, their situation appeared hopeless. Germany ruled the sea and
the air, as well as the ground. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1937-40)
had previously met with Der Führer,
Adolf Hitler, returning home to England to proclaim peace agreements had been
reached with Hitler. It turned out to be a hollow promise on the part of Hitler,
placing Chamberlain in a most unfortunate position, and an embarrassing one, to
British Parliament was divided over how to proceed with a robust and voracious
German military power that was running rough-shod over all of continental Europe.
Chamberlain lost the confidence of the ruling parties, and was forced to step
down. The only person who was acceptable to both political parties was Sir
Winston Churchill, a curmudgeonly character if ever there was one. He was
ill-mannered most of the time, impatient to the extreme, rude and demanding. Of
all the witticisms attributed to Churchill, the one best known was in 1946 when
he was attending a dinner party where Bessie Braddock, the rather plump leader
of the Labour Party of Britain at the time, said to Churchill, “Winston, you
are drunk.” “Madam,” he said, “you are ugly, and I will be sober in the
in May of 1940 the British were facing insurmountable odds. Parliament was
preparing to enter into peace negotiations, effectually surrendering to the
Germans. Winston Churchill would have none of that. The king of England at that
time was King George the VI, who initially wanted nothing to do with Churchill
and was opposed to him becoming the prime minister. But as he saw Churchill’s grit
and determination, the King pledged his support, and as they say, the rest is
the movie there are numerous bits of delightful humor that had Isaura and me
laughing out loud at times. It balanced the serious nature of the movie’s storyline
of the bits of history I had never known before was how Neville Chamberlain
became instrumental in changing Parliaments decision to reject the terms of
peace, and, instead to fight Germany at all costs. Unfortunately, Chamberlain
will be forever stuck with the “peace in our time” assurance, but at
crunch-time he did support the unpopular Churchill who was determined to fight
of the great acts of history was the manner in which the British people saved
their army. The military leaders were paralyzed in taking any action in
rescuing their stranded army, only eighty miles across the English Channel.
Churchill asked the English people to take their personal water craft and sail
to Dunkirk (Dunkerque in French). Thousands of boats came across the water,
rescuing nearly all 300,000 British troops. Some boats were so small that they
could only carry a few troops per crossing.
Churchill is the sort of person you need in a moment of crisis. He was a master
in knowing how to invigorate and challenge the British people to courageously
stand against the military might of Germany. This, at a time when every other
European country was either remaining neutral or had already been conquered by
the well-equipped and well-trained German army.
know very little about actors these days, but I will say that Gary Oldman, who
played Winston Churchill, was absolutely amazing. The rest of the supporting
cast was equally well placed. Isaura turned to me at one point in the movie and
said, “I think that’s an actual film of Churchill.” It wasn’t, but the filming
was so well done that it made you feel as though it was.
poignant part in the film was the phone conversations Churchill had with
American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Churchill implored FDR to come to
England’s rescue, to no avail. In fact, the United States did not enter the war
until Sunday, December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.
The next day, Monday, December 8, Germany declared war on the United States.
Nearly two years had passed since Britain’s darkest hour.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
and determination are characteristic of the Brits*. This movie portrays this in spades. And Winston Churchill was the King of
Spades when it came to grit and just plain cussedness.
see the movie, Darkest Hour. You’ll be glad you did.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Regrettably, the Brits have lost their grit and determination and have surrendered to the Islamic invasion, as has most of Europe.