MVFF40: DARKEST HOUR’s Joe Wright & Kristin Scott Thomas
18 Oct, 2017
DARKEST HOUR (2017), directed by Joe Wright [“Atonement” (2007) , “Pride & Prejudice” (2005) , “Anna Karenina” (2012)] and starring Dame Kristin Scott Thomas [“The English Patient” (1996), “Gosford Park” (2001), “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994), “The Horse Whisperer” (1998)] and Gary Oldman [“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), “The Dark Knight” (2008) “Batman Begins” (2005)], is a dramatic historical and biographical film set during the early days of World War II when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain. At this time, a great burden was upon Churchill’s shoulders as he was forced to make a decision between negotiating with Hitler or fighting for the survival of Western Europe and its people.
Watch our exclusive Opening Night red carpet interview with director Joe Wright:
This film could have easily been a slow-moving, dry, political piece about this history of Great Britain in which characters were flat and uninteresting, but instead, each was lively and entertaining. Wright had an amazing way with this story choosing actors like Oldman, Thomas and supporting actress Lily James [“Cinderella” (2015), “Baby Driver” (2017)], who played Churchill’s bright-eyed and charming secretary, Elizabeth Layton. Oldman was transformed into looking like an aging Churchill, and did not miss a beat by playing the role of a man who lacked proper social mannerisms making each scene extremely amusing in the midst of challenging circumstances. Oldman’s talents shined bright complimented by Thomas who played Clementine Churchill, the British Prime Minister’s supportive wife. As with Oldman, make-up also aged Thomas to fit the role. Thomas’ character was emotionally grounded, level-headed, a necessary compliment to man who was constantly susceptive to incontrollable and improper emotional eruptions. And through her skillful acting, she was able to effectively convey extreme warmth, as well as abounding love and care for Churchill who seemed at times unloveable.
Watch our red carpet interview with Kristin Scott Thomas:
Scenes of political meetings in a room full of grumbling male officials distractingly and noisily waving bundles of papers around to signify their approval of Churchill’s rallying words, provided the audience a glimpse into former times regarding how governmental sessions occurred during that period. At this time, women were excluded from rooms filled with classified information, as well as private meetings that only men had access to. A touching scene was when the prime minister brought his secretary, Layton, into one of these exclusively male rooms following learning that her brother was one of the soldiers lost in a recent battle that he, at a high level, may have been responsible for. This interaction shed some light into the leader’s often hidden sensitivity to people and humanity, as he commonly came across as blunt, insensitive and intimidating to those around him. DARKEST HOUR is an important picture that provides insights into Churchill’s private and public persona and the way he dealt with pressing political issues at a crucial chapter in Western Europe’s past.
See DARKEST HOUR in theaters November 22.
Article: Cindy Maram
Interviewed and Produced by Cindy Maram for Dig In Magazine
Videography by Ed Troxell
Featured image by Jonathan Scott Shensa
Kristin Scott Thomas
Mill Valley Film Festival
Watch our 40th Mill Valley Film Festival MUDBOUND interview with writer/director Dee Rees and view further MVFF video interviews.