This review was first published by the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. For remarks on Darkest Hour by Hillsdale President Larry Arnn, and excerpts from Gary Oldman’s appearance at the College, click here.
Hour of Trial, and Triumph
Darkest Hour, a film by Focus Features, directed by Joe Wright, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill, 2hrs 5 min, December 2017.
Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the gate: “To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds For the ashes of his fathers And the temples of his gods…” —Thomas Babington Macaulay
It is depressing and disheartening for anyone who knows the barest facts to hear history told by actors, with reality turned on its head under guise of entertainment. Invented dialogue and scenarios are of course necessary for dramatic effect. Robert Hardy's scrupulously accurate portrayal of Churchill's "Wilderness Years" doesn't deviate an iota from fact or believability. Yet it is at least as dramatic as this latest dose of Fake History.
The Crown, 2016. Produced for Netflix by Left Bank Pictures, created and written by Peter Morgan. Ten episodes released 4 November 2016. A second season is commissioned.
N.B. Since writing this, more false trails emerged. Consulting 1952 documents at the Hillsdale College Churchill Project and Churchill Archives Centre, we found no evidence for the film’s implication that the Duke of Windsor bargained with Churchill to persuade the Royal couple to move from Clarence House to the Palace, in exchange for restoration of his allowance. Nor is there anything to suggest Churchill postponed the Coronation 18 months for his own political purposes.
No sooner had I admired the fair, mostly balanced and accurate PBS docudrama Churchill’s Secret (on the Prime Minister’s June 1953 stroke) than I was grumbling through Netflix’s The Crown, which is, sadly, as often misleading as Churchill’s Secret was honest.…