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Exclusive: DARKEST HOUR Story Details

Exclusive: DARKEST HOUR Story Details

(Note: A project’s script/story is subject to change between now and the final edit of the film.)

THE PREQUEL TO THE CROWN

Netflix’s The Crown, was one of the hottest shows of 2016. It followed a young Elizabeth’s ascent from Princess to Queen in the 1950’s. One of the many standout characters from the show is Winston Churchill brilliantly played by John Lithgow. The old politician makes for a very strange ally to the young Queen. He steals every scene he’s featured in. Darkest Hour tells the story of when Churchill finally becomes Prime Minister. It’s his origin story and for history buffs, it’s a pure delight. It stars Gary Oldman as Winston and it’s directed by the fantastic Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement).

oldman-churchill

In May 1940, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (John Hurt) resigns after the German offensive hits overdrive. The French are about to surrender and all of mainland Europe seems to be lost to Hitler and his Nazi war machine. Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is appointed Prime Minister due to a coalition in the House of Commons. A career politician, the 66-year-old, is viewed as a bad choice to lead the British people by his peers.

His predecessor Chamberlain thinks the country should sign a peace treaty with Germany. After the invasion of France, all British troops fall back to Dunkirk with no hope in sight. Under incommensurable stress and duress coming from all sides, Churchill must decide the future of his country: Fight till the end, or surrender to Hitler.

This project will fit in perfectly with other stories told about this time period. The King’s Speech is a sort of prequel to this tale because King George VI is a strong supporting character in Darkest Hour. He will be played by Ben Mendelsohn, the villain from Rogue One.

The events in Darkest Hour take place 2 years after The King’s Speech. The film also runs parallel to Dunkirk, the new movie by Christopher Nolan. That story will tell the soldier’s view of the incredible events that took place during Operation Dynamo. Finally, most of the characters in Darkest Hour all show up in The Crown which follows Churchill’s second term as Prime-Minister.

churchill - troops

Now that we’ve established the timeline in which this movie is told, is it a worthy companion piece to all those stories?

Two words: Hell. Yeah.

It’s a great script! History buffs and British filmgoers will be delighted by the film because it tells a story we’ve never seen before. Even though everyone knows the ending, the dramatic tension remains tangible throughout the events. Gary Oldman will most likely be a serious contender in next year’s Best Actor race. It’s hard to believe someone could top John Lithgow’s portrayal of Churchill but the script gives Gary Oldman a deeper emotional arc to explore.

In the Darkest Hour, the legend of Winston Churchill emerges in one of the most crucial moments in modern history. That hour was definitely worth the wait.

On a sad note, while I was writing this article last week, it was announced that John Hurt had passed away. Hurt was an outstanding actor, with an incredible career that spanned over 6 decades. It seems his final big-screen appearance will be in this film,  as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

At the beginning of the film, he’s forced to resign from his post after the Germans invade Norway. He subsequently served on Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet until he passed six months later from cancer. The movie shows Chamberlain primarily as an eloquent foe for Winston Churchill. His character doesn’t believe that Churchill will be able to save the British Empire.

He and Viscount Halifax are planning a diplomatic solution by negotiating in secret through Italy with Hitler. Slowly, we see Chamberlain starting to believe in the new Prime Minister and fully support his decisions. It’s a fantastic role for Hurt where he’ll shine once more and steal some great scenes as he always did.

Darkest Hour will be released on November 24th, 2017 by Focus Features.

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About The Author

Jean-François Allaire

Jean-François Allaire is a true movie geek. In the past 20 years, he's written for Scr(i)pt magazine, Screenwriters Monthly and many websites (Corona's Coming Attractions, TNMC, Filmjerk and Joblo.) For the past decade, he's worked in the Canadian film industry as a distributor, screenwriting consultant and VOD expert. You can send him an email to: TCRF@hotmail.com

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