It took Winston Churchill to convince the Academy to give an Oscar to Gary Oldman.
And here our review of this miraculous movie, “Darkest Hour”.
Behind and in Front of the Camera
After creating dreams with movies like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Pan”, Joe Wright focuses on one of the most beloved British people and one of the most admired historical figure in the whole world: Winston Churchill.
Gary Oldman has been chosen to play the clever politician. The great, but always so underestimated British actor, transformed by the magic of the Kazuhiro Tsuji’s makeup team, brings on the screen one of the most beautiful faces of Churchill in cinema history.
With the triumph at the BAFTAs and at the other awards, the Oldman and Tsuji’s Oscars arrived without any surprise, rightfully deserved, leaving no room for any discussion, this was their year!
Who’s Got the Typewriter
“Darkest Hour” presents Churchill as he struggles with one of the most difficult moments of his life, with his inner and intimate part in contrast with the public power and arrogance.
To do the hard job of handling the two sides of such a challenging coin, we find Anthony McCarten, the screenwriter of “The Theory of Everything“, now working on “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the movie about Freddie Mercury.
A biopics’ master, who repeatedly showed that he can draw out the most personal part of the characters without losing the historical and biographical thickness.
What to Know (ABSOLUTELY NO SPOILERS)
Few recognized from the start Hitler’s monstrous face: initially, he was considered a political meteor, convenient for restoring an all too stormy nation. Among those few there was him, Winston Churchill, the Hound of the Allies, the one who never gave up and always searched the light in one of the darkest moments of the world.
And the darkest moment for Churchill was just at the start of his first term as Prime Minister, in 1940, when he found himself in need to convince the government to never accept, for no reason whatsoever, any deal from Nazi Germany.
The movie starts here, from the resignation of Chamberlain to the actual involvement in the war of the United Kingdom, right after the Dynamo Operation, the evacuation of the British troops from Dunkirk.
In a way, “Darkest Hour” is the historical backstage of the events told by Christopher Nolan in “Dunkirk”.
What You’ll Need
A quick preventive history refresher can help to not suffer too much for the suspense, handled wonderfully by Dario Marianelli’s score (Oscar winner for “Atonement” and historical collaborator of Joe Wright) and by Gary Oldman’s expressivity, that still manages to emerge from the heavy makeup.
If you are smokers, you’ll need an iron willpower: the plot’s tension and the omnipresent Churchill’s cigar will make you want to have some tobacco even if you are a hardened health nut.
What They Say
Still talking about the cigar, Gary Oldman revealed at The Graham Norton Show that he smoked about 12 cigars a day, £30,000 worth of cigars, and even developed nicotine poisoning.
Churchill’s famous props, such as his cigar, aren’t however sufficient to convey a good interpretation of the Prime Minister, and here comes into play the real skills of the actor. Playing a historical character is difficult, but playing a character who has been interpreted by some of the most talented actors of the time seems almost impossible.
Among the famous “Churchills” we find Robert Hardy, one of the most appreciated ones in “Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years”, who in his final interview, published by the Daily Mail online, said: ”From everything I’ve seen and heard, Oldman’s portrayal of Churchill is far more convincing than some other recent portrayals. He certainly looks the part, he’s undergone a remarkable transformation. But it’s not just his appearance, he’s managed to catch the essence of the man.”
Certainly, Hardy didn’t include in those less convincing portrayals John Lithgow’s one, in the Netflix series “The Crown”. Lithgow, during an interview at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, said that Oldman and himself communicated before and after the Golden Globes, and, on that occasion, revealed their code names: “He calls me 54. I played the Churchill in 1954, he played the one in 1940, so he writes: ‘Yes, this is 40! How are you, 54?‘”
One Last Thing…
We talked about Gary Oldman’s skills enough, but, although being one of the best actors of his generation, his Churchill would’ve not been so convincing without the magical makeup of Kazuhiro Tsuji’s team.
Kazuhiro has once again shown his ability, coming back on a movie set after several years only for Oldman’s sake.
After a difficult experience, recently revealed also during our interview, Tsuji had decided to abandon the movie business, but Oldman put one single condition for taking the job: there had to be Kazuhiro.
So the Japanese artist took a week for thinking about it and, after that, he luckily agreed, giving us another wonderful makeup and winning his first Oscar.
Out of 5 Monkeys