It’s been a good year for period historical offerings. Christopher Nolan gave us Dunkirk, Netflix gave us The Crown, and director Joe Wright finishes the trifecta with Darkest Hour.
Wright (Atonement, Hanna, Pan) has created a unique view of Winston Churchill, showing the larger-than-life Prime Minister as a man, husband, and one of the driving forces of the British people not backing down during trying times.
Luckily for me, the SFFILM featured a special presentation of the SF Honors Award of Darkest Hour, and I was able to attend the red carpet and screening of the film. Wright talked to me a little bit about why he wanted to tell this particular story from a script written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything):
Of course, when you have someone the caliber of freaking Gary Oldman in the role, you know you’re in good hands. Oldman is almost unrecognizable in the incredible makeup, until he starts to walk. His is a familiar gait, one he amended in order to literally echo the historical footfalls of Winston. There is a warmth and humor to his version of Churchill, a good balance for his complete and utter ferocity during the ‘darkest hour’. (It’s a crying shame Oldman still hasn’t been awarded his Oscar, and maybe this performance will change that.)
Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine, Winston’s wife, gives probably the best representation we’ve gotten of the enigmatic woman at the side of Churchill. The exchanges between the pair as scripted show true fondness and love, feelings the actors really bring home. “Have we gotten terribly old, Winston,” she asks him gently, to which he sweetly quips, “Yes, I’m afraid you have.”
Anytime someone plays royalty, it’s easy to use the words grace and dignity, but Australian Ben Mendelsohn tackles the role of King George VI with both those traits in buckets. There is control and hesitation in moderation within his performance, His Majesty struggling with his personal dislike of Churchill at the beginning of their relationship to an appreciative understanding partnership at the end of the film.
Below you’ll find my gallery of images from the red carpet event, embarrassingly enough they’re all from my cellphone due to equipment issues:
Gary started a chorus kickline at one point, too.
Also, Ben Mendelsohn pulled me off the photo line and onto the red carpet with him in order to take selfies of us on my phone (he’s long longer arms than I have, obviously). Maybe I dressed specifically for the occasion in my Union Jack dress from Gold Bubble Clothing. Even Oldman stopped in the middle of an interview to tell me, “What a great dress; you look beautiful.”
Thanks again to the SF FILM folks for the opportunity to cover the event and see the film. If you’re local, make sure you check out their list of upcoming events like next week’s Planet of the Apes screening with Andy Serkis!
Darkest Hour opens in select theaters on November 22nd 2017.