Darkest Hour: We Shall Never Surrender | Sunday Observer

Darkest Hour: We Shall Never Surrender

Sir Winston Churchill in the ‘Darkest Hour’
Sir Winston Churchill in the ‘Darkest Hour’

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail…

We shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender…

Then our Empire beyond the seas,

armed and guarded by the British Fleet,

would carry on the struggle,

until, in God’s good time, the new world,

with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue

and the liberation of the old.”

- Sir Winston Churchill (4 June 1940)

 

The 2017 film Darkest Hour is directed by Joe Wright and the screenplay is by Anthony McCarten. It stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, Stephen Dillane as Viscount Halifax, Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain, Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill and Lily James as Elizabeth Layton.

The film begins during the Second World War in May, 1940 after Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark and Norway and his troops are on the Belgian border set to seize the rest of Europe.

The then Prime Minister of Britain Neville Chamberlain is not competent to lead the country during the war, and in the British Parliament the leader of the opposition Clement Attlee calls for his resignation.

The post of Prime Minister is offered to the Foreign Secretary Viscount Halifax but he declines the offer because he does not feel ready for the job. The only candidate the opposition will accept is Winston Churchill and he is appointed Prime Minister amidst much opposition. Initially, the reigning monarch King George VI favours Halifax and has reservations about Churchill.

Churchill is an eccentric yet charismatic and strong leader who has the courage to defy the despotic Hitler and his tyranny, and Hitler meets his match in Churchill.

After Calais has fallen and the imminent defeat of France by Hitler and the Nazis, Halifax and Chamberlain try to convince Churchill to agree to peace talks but Churchill opposes it because he knows for certain that it will futile. Churchill wisely tells Halifax, “When will the lesson be learned? How many more dictators must be wooed, appeased, given immense privileges before we learn? You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth.”

When King George VI asks Churchill for his opinion on peace talks he replies, “Support in the war cabinet for the campaign of resistance has collapsed... Nations that go down fighting rise again and those that surrender tamely are finished.” In response King George VI tells Churchill, “While some in the country dreaded your appointment, none dreaded it like Adolf Hitler. Whomever can strike fear into that brute heart is worthy of all of our trust. We shall work together. You shall have my support at any hour”. King George VI advises Churchill to let the people instruct him on whether to go to war and Churchill takes his advice and feels the pulse of the common people on an unplanned underground train ride to Westminster.

In an interview with TSR, screen writer Anthony McCarten says regarding the film, “Well the movie is somewhat of a thriller. There are several levels of intrigue going on. All of these layers of complexity are very well executed. In my movies dialogue takes the place of car chases that is where the fireworks are. It is what we use to make you be on the edge of your seat and I think thanks to the amazing cast and crew that is what the film does. To write that tension though you need it to be about something significant and of course it is hard to find something with more at stake than the freedom of the Western world. It is hard to beat these stakes.”

The Darkest Hour is one of the best films of the year and Gary Oldman gives a brilliant performance as Churchill. The film is a must watch for all those who are interested in the history of Europe and the formation of the modern world. Churchill fought for freedom and democracy against tremendous odds and saved Europe from the despotic and tyrannical rule of Hitler. Churchill will always be remembered as the greatest Prime Minister of Britain and his powerful language inspired and stirred the hearts of people in a way that no other leader could have done.

Comments