Yes, we do know Gary Oldman got the Oscar for playing Churchill. However, our correspondent, Esteban DeGolf, is unimpressed:
I recently saw the movie “Darkest Hour” about Winston Churchill and I was disappointed and very surprised considering the positive reviews I had heard, especially from Conservative sources. Personally I would rate the movie as OK at best. There are several things that I believe make it fall far short of the mark:
First of all, Gary Oldman‘s attempt to mimic Churchill‘s speech made him rather difficult to understand.
Second I felt the movie greatly overplayed his eccentricities.
Third, and now we’re getting into more meaningful issues, the most memorable scene in the movie involves Churchill going into the Underground to ask common people if Britain should fight on. This made for good theater but it was totally fabricated. The movie would have you believe that Churchill was undecided and only swayed by public opinion in the Underground – if he had picked a different train car perhaps Britain would have surrendered.
Finally, and most important, the movie implies Churchill was extremely conflicted about whether Britain should fight on or sue for peace with Hitler. While I’m not a historian I have a read a great deal about Churchhill and I’ve seen nothing that supports this storyline. Churchill was famously defiant and felt Britain should fight virtually to the last man.
I must confess I am mystified as to why so many people promote this as an outstanding movie. I had a very similar experience years ago regarding the movie “The Iron Lady” about Margaret Thatcher. It also got excellent reviews from Conservatives which I could not understand. That movie spent an inordinate amount of time showing Lady Thatcher near the end of her life roaming around her apartment struggling with dementia and talking to her husband who had died years before. It implied that she fought the Falklands War for PR purposes and didn’t care about casualties. And, of course, it minimized the economic benefits her policies brought to all of Britain.
So, how to explain the reviews? I assume that for those on the political left it minimizes a great Conservative and turns his greatest achievements into something that was really just a straw poll of the common people and perhaps one good speech. But what about Conservatives, why do they applaud this lame effort? I think it must be that Conservatives are so used to being thoroughly trashed and reviled by Hollywood that this seems like very good treatment indeed. For a battered wife one kind word must feel like a trip to Heaven.