Of all human history’s most troubled and terrifying ordeals, the Second World War arguably ranks highest in terms of ongoing public fascination. Despite film after film having been made over the years, both audiences and critics alike never seem to tire of the colossal tale that pitted good against evil on a global scale – just as filmmakers never seem capable of exhausting the rather endless supply of tales yet to be told about that specific period in world history.
While the war itself has been examined through a variety of perspectives, one of the least focused on aspects of the World War II era is that of the leaders who prepared their respective nations for war. Quite a number of films exist about Adolf Hitler, but few major releases to date exist which focus directly on one of the war’s other huge historical figures: Winston Churchill. This will soon change, however, with a new Winston Churchill film on its way, care of Universal Pictures and director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna).
The film, entitled Darkest Hour, has found its Winston Churchill in actor Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Dark Knight Rises). Production is currently underway, and we now have our first extremely impressive look at Oldman as the unfaltering and much beloved one-time British prime minister, which can be seen below (via The Film Stage).
The term “Darkest Hour” comes from Churchill himself as a means of referring to the situation that both he and Great Britain faced only weeks after he took office in May of 1940. By June of that year, the Nazis had gained control of France and Great Britain was left alone to hold off Germany as well as the other European Axis powers, while facing regular bombing raids by the Nazis on Britain. The situation remained dire over the course of the next year as Germany invaded Russia and Churchill did his best to maintain morale both at home and on the battlefield. To make matters worse, Churchill’s efforts during this time were marred by skepticism of his leadership ability from England’s King George VI as well as his very own party. Aside from Gary Oldman, the film also stars Lily James (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), John Hurt (Jackie, Doctor Who), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Only God Forgives).
Gary Oldman is one of the finest actors working today and the caliber of his physical transformation into Winston Churchill looks flawless. Given his past credentials and ongoing ability to prove himself worthy of the finest roles, Darkest Hour looks as though it could quite possibly be in line for Oscar contention. The film’s release date is now set for November 24th, 2017, which is as good an indication as any that Universal knows it is dealing with a potential winner here. Joe Wright’s past Oscar success with wartime drama Atonement means that he’s well versed in the demands of a period drama and rarely does an image from an upcoming film make as strong an impression as this one does.
As with all films that deal with the Second World War, the audience is initially limited to a very specific demographic. However, if the film impresses enough in its initial weeks to spread positive word, Darkest Hour could expand its audience. Also, if Oldman’s performance is an especially powerful and memorable one – which by the looks of his transformation in this image seems entirely possible – Darkest Hour could have a future lined with Oscar gold.
Darkest Hour opens on November 24th, 2017.