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'Darkest Hour,' brings odd sunshine to a dreary day

Write to the Point


January 11, 2018

On a soggy Seattle-like Sunday with no Seahawks to watch in the NFL playoffs, and Cooper Kupp’s Los Angeles Rams sidelined the night before, the vote was to stay indoors.

Inside a theater that is, to see what all the buzz was about over the film, “Darkest Hour.”

You may or may not have heard the word about the cinematic effort to tell the story of about a month in time, now close to 80 years ago, that arguably may very well have been one of the most important turning points in world history.

Its central character is Winston Churchill, and a “character” he is portrayed to be.

Now, while one must take what appears on the screen and what really occurred in history generally with a big block of salt, the buzz so far from many sources — even those well versed in history— is that this is a pretty accurate portrayal.

That being May 1940 when in the course of just eight months, Nazi Germany’s Blitzkrieg — lightning war — had overrun most all of Europe and was spying one final conquest, England.

Churchill gains the support of both his Conservative Party, as well as Liberals across the chamber, thrusting him into, perhaps, the most unenviable job on earth at the time.

As England is bombarded from above, and the Germans have pushed practically the entire British army to the brink of extinction at Dunkirk, the cigar-chomping and alcohol-swilling Churchill is faced with a horrible decision: suing for peace with Adolf Hitler or rallying the British people to wage war.

In the film, apparently some of that Hollywood “creative license” is exercised in a scene when Churchill vanishes from the backseat of the car. Suddenly “Winnie,” appears in the London Underground, affectionately known as “The Tube.”

Double-takes abound in a scene that is decidedly a bit fictional, but salted with some truth according to Churchill biographer and the film’s screenwriter, Anthony McCarten. While there is no proof that Churchill actually descended into the subway to check the pulse of the people as to whether he should negotiate peace — and potentially have the swastika fluttering over Buckingham Palace — or have the Brits stand their ground, the head of state would escape handlers from time to time.

Apparently buoyed by what he learned from the “common folk,” (wherever they might really have been found) Churchill would go on to make his memorable “never give up” speech before Parliament.

It was the first of a staccato series of twists and turns over the next few months that changed the course of history. A hastily gathered citizen’s flotilla would go on to rescue most of the trapped troops at Dunkirk in late May and early June. In July, Hitler began plans for a 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, a move that ultimately began his demise. And the island nation survived relentless bombing in the “Battle of Britain” later in 1940.

Turns out, watching Englishman Gary Oldman’s stunning performance playing Churchill, happened to coincide with the 75th edition of the Golden Globe Awards airing later that day. I was curious to see if he would garner attention for his role in honors that tend to mirror the Academy Awards.

Mixed into the numerous awards, presented by the glamorous and glitzy of Hollywood, was the underlying tone, rightly centered, on all the horrible stories of sexual harassment and assault that have bombarded us in recent months.

What was ironic were many of those who, while wearing the dress color of the night, black, showed an incredible amount of provocative skin.

But Oldman’s selection for the “Best Actor” award to close the show brought some sunshine to a somewhat dreary day.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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