Darkest Hour (2017): ‘Politics in Britain’ – A Film Review


With the recent of events of Britain fresh in their minds England was in a state of unease and unrest, with no firm ideas of what will happen next. Politically, the country was tense and strong leadership was needed. However parliament was in upheaval; struggling over where to take the country and how to deal with everything that was going on. Sound familiar? This was the climate in which Winston Churchill was called to office. World War II was upon them. Millions were about to be lost to the war and it was a sad day for Europe. Winston Churchill was a mumbling and grumpy old man by the point that Darkest Hour picks the story up. A war drama of what was potentially going on politically behind the scenes of Dunkirk. Dunkirk having only come out earlier this year (2017), showing the same thing but on the beaches of Dunkirk. It is no mistake that these films were to come out, now, and reflect some of the most patriotic moments for Britain in one of the darkest patches of history.




 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish



Acting Real Characters…

Beneath prosthetics Gary Oldman’s face resides as Winston Churchill but in his performance is a near perfect rendition of his character. Giving Churchill and the heart of the film a solid baseline for Darkest Hour’s subject matter. We often see Churchill through the eyes of others and this builds the characters depth in surprising ways. Brash and scary to begin with, but fragile and determined beneath. Learnt as the characters around him learn this too. Namely his secretary, Elizabeth Nel née Layton (Lily James) and King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn). Strangely this almost gives their Churchill a character arch, since otherwise the situation remains almost the same throughout as the impending doom of World War II ever looms above them. In some very touching moments we see Layton and George VI’s affection grow to a frail old man trying to be the country’s strength. Regardless of how much of this may be true (reportedly fairly accurate save for the events of the film occurring before Churchill meeting Layton), it marks the films greatest performances at its core.


Mood and Tone

Surrounding this is the ever melancholic threat of the downfall of Europe. This corresponds so perfectly with the cinematography and lighting. We see the dark and protected undergrowth of London and the red lights associated with the dangerous times they discuss. Many overhead shots keep the location to the forefront as parts of the countries of Europe fall to bombings and invasions. There is a lot of strength to the films construction; a dynamic fight for political control – parliament seems just as chaotic as Europe. Touching moments that draw upon slow motion actions of London build upon this, and the isolation of character stuck in rooms or bunkers never feels far from being exactly on point. Darkest Hour knows exactly where to put its theme and focus.



All together a very accomplished film of fine performances and cinematography – owing a lot to lighting too. It isn’t without fault and it is a film dramaticising the events for better storytelling. Similarly the film doesn’t exactly climax. Similar to Dunkirk before it, Darkest Hour builds an atmosphere that never feels resolved by the end that could have easily been the middle of the film and not the end. Perhaps this is in some part due to the war and the films focus on what happened behind closed doors far from enemy lines and far before the war was won. First comes a decision, a hard decision in dark times. One that was never really so certain.


A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below for any who wish to see one.



After the removal of lord chamberlain, Winston Churchill is appointed Prime Minister. Feeling strongly that Britain should fight the dictator, Hitler, no matter what, he begins a campaign in order to turn the tide for Europe.



Films Mentioned

Darkest Hour (d. Joe Wright UK 2017)

Dunkirk (d. Nolan USA/UK/France/Netherlands 2017)


Further Reading



Official Site

Interview with Gary Oldman

Interview with Joe Wright

Interview with Bruno Delbonnel (Cinematographer)

Behind the Scenes

Scene Break Down

Fact vs Fiction

Historically Accurate?


If you liked this…

Dunkirk (2017) – A Film Review

Murder on the Orient Express (2017): Performing a Book – A Film Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017): Personal vs Professional Success – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Darkest Hour (d. Joe Wright UK 2017)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.