There was a time when I would repeatedly watch the repeat episodes of “World at War”, until I got fed up with the Allies’ failures. (Norway, France, Singapore, North Africa, Dieppe.)
The interview that stuck was from episode 2 by Jock Colville, a civil servant, who explained how Chamberlain, Halifax and Churchill met in the Cabinet Room and Chamberlain asked Churchill if he saw any reason why a Lord couldn’t be Prime Minister and Churchill just stared out of the window, cos he knew it was a trap.
In the same episode, Boothby explained the “Norway debate” and how in essence, many MPs had been frustrated with Chamberlain not wanting to take the war with the Nazis. Labour played a key role in pushing the issue once the problems with the British operation in Norway had been grasped, despite Churchill putting up a big defence of his operation in the debate. They pushed for a vote and too many Conservatives did not support Chamberlain.
So the dramatic start “Darkest Hour“, with Churchill not attending the “Norway debate” was annoying, and the film kept taking these kind of liberties.
Fighting over the leadership after Churchill had been made P.M., the military chiefs having no plan on the Dunkirk evacuation, the King giving Churchill the backbone to carry on refusing to make a deal with the Nazis, Churchill holding a focus group in a London Underground carriage, Churchill meeting with MPs in a large stairwell, Chamberlain wiping his forehead being mistaken for a signal..
Regarding the history, one example of the criticism – by The National Review.
I never doubted Gary Oldman as Churchill, or his interpretation of Churchill as a livelier character than other clichéd portrayals of him as miserable.
But in this movie, politicians are quick to dispute, rather than talking things through.
So what to take from the movie? The performances. The scenery, especially the high tiered Commons chamber of the time. The importance of Parliament. Bringing form to the “Blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech.
But the movie is probably unfair on Churchill cos he did know his own mind, and hey, I don’t rate Churchill – Taff Vale, Gallipoli, the 1926 strike, the Gold standard, famines in India, and the foul-ups in WW2.
Graphic from wiki.