It had probably been years I hadn’t felt very satisfied watching an actor’s performance in commercial movies before I watched Gary Oldman in ‘Darkest Hour’ last week. The after feeling that was very worthy of waiting. I had anticipated the release of the film since last December and was afraid the film wouldn’t be screened here. Alhamdulilah (Thanks God) the movie was screened in Indonesia last Friday and I had a chance to secure one of the movie’s tickets on the first day of its screening.
I had high expectations entering the cinema room on that very day. On the back of my mind, I was thinking I would learn history a lot, not just about Winston Churchill. For a history junkie like I am this is more than a sufficient reason to watch history movies. What I didn’t expect to see was Oldman’s performance that exceeded what I thought I would watch. I only knew Churchill was one of the rare politicians in the world with his contributions to the UK at that time. But I never thought he was that very complicated until I watched ‘Darkest Hour’.
At the very beginning of the movie, you will see chaotic scenes since the UK was in very critical position at that time. It was 1940s when Nazis and Adolf Hitler were ruling the world, almost capable of toppling the UK. The country’s prime minister at that time, Neville Chamberlain, resigned because he was deemed unable to have dealt with the crisis.
Churchill’s first appearance made me think that he was worthy of pity. Like what his wife said, he was old enough to have replaced Chamberlain at the time when the country was in a very dangerous situation. Churchill knew that but he took the job anyway. Honestly, I pitied him. His previous bad records that sent the country losing in some battles was sufficient reason to yes, put him in the toughest position at that time plus audiences knew that he was chosen because he was the only person in the ruling party that was liked by the opposition party.
What happened after that was a series of disbeliefs from people around him, only very few who trusted his strategy. He was called dumb, overly-optimistic (well, suicidal to be precise). And you know what? I got carried away with the major opinion since this was proven by how Churchill acted. He was often doubtful even if when he was furious. Man! I can’t imagine how Oldman was capable of doing that kind of acting.
Up till the middle of the movie I was deeply engaged in Churchill’s confusion and doubt. He was taking risky decisions to save millions of Britons, and there had to be parties that needed to be sacrificed. Political tensions were clearly felt in the movie. All of his negotiation skills, military strategies seemed useless when he was firstly allowing Hallifax to hold a diplomatic talk with Italy as Hitler’s ally at that time. That was the moment I thought Churchill was gone, nationality theme was mere theory, that Churchill wasn’t special figure I need to admire until there was a scene when he was in an empty room looking so exhausted.
That was when I realized no matter how brilliant you were at whatever kind of knowledge you are interested at, if you don’t involve feelings then there is nothing extraordinary about you. So was Churchill.
There I finally saw the leader the world has saluted for decades was truly the one who deserves that. I finally came to believe his sacrifice, his unquestionable love for his country that made him unable to sleep, drank glasses of alcohol and smoke cigarettes.
That smooth, silent peak moment of the movie was the scene that brought him back at his principle of resuming the fight. It was surprising for me to have seen that Churchill’s confidence was back again not because of his cleverness but more of his bravery to take all that it cost to defeat the Nazis. The courage that arose because of his deep love for the UK. And that was more important than skills and knowledge that he had.
At crisis time, taking guts then inviting others to share the same spirit as you is everything that you need to do. That sounds so simple but that takes bumpy roads to be that much confident, inspiring as what happens to Churchill unbelievably played by Gary Oldman.
Thank you Rotten Tomatoes for the picture..