Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Contains Historical Details of the Plot.

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend.

Darkest Hour (2017) on IMDb

Plot Overview

9 MAY 1940 Hitler's Third Reich is poised to invade Belgium having already absorbed Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark and Norway. The British Parliament is abuzz. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) has failed to procure a peace leaving the UKperilously unprepared to face the Nazi menace.” Chamberlain is forced to step down as PM, Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane) declines to accept his position, and there's only one member of the ruling party that has the support of the opposition (“Where's Winston?”) who are needed to form a coalition.

10 May His new personal secretary, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), is briefed not to take dictation single-spaced; her boss reworks his sentences as he goes along. His appointment was made with severe reservations due to his chequered military past, but “When youth departs, may wisdom prove enough.” He fills his war cabinet with his erstwhile opponents: Chamberlain, Halifax, Fox, …. He is rightly advised, “You have an enormous task ahead of you.

13 MAY In his acceptance speech, what he promises the cabinet is: “blood, toils, tears & sweat”; his policy is “to wage war”; his aim is “victory at all costs.” His speech is rejected.

19 MAY He gives his secretary a tour of the facilities—what she's allowed to see of them. She explains to him that the way he did his victory sign with the back of his fingers facing out, would mean something different to the lower classes.

25 MAY The British army of some 300,000 men is surrounded on the shore of Dunkirk. Another contingent of 4,000 at Calais is tasked with distracting the Germans until a rescue can be arranged for the former. Churchill calls Admiral Ramsey in the middle of the night, asks if he's disturbed him (“Not at all; I was just reading my Bible”), and tests him out on an unlikely civilian rescue scheme.

26 MAY Churchill reflects on his family's “wildness in the blood. We lacked the gift of temperance. … Europe is lost!” Churchill is finally ready to cave in to the peacemakers in parliament, though it might be asked, how is he then an improvement over Chamberlain? (“Why get rid of the organ grinder [only to] replace him with the monkey?”) He's drafting a new kind of speech, but “The right words won't come.” Miss Layton assures him, “They will come, sir. No one can put words together like you.” He receives a surprise visit from King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) who tells him, “You have my support. Beat the buggers. Go to the people; let them support you; but tell them the truth.

28 MAY It all comes to a head this day, and of Churchill it will be said, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.


Gambler's Royal
Flush One of Kenny Rogers's songs concerned a chance meeting with “The Gambler” on a train, who offered the passenger the advice that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. Whom to install and whom to get rid of was just the note on which “Darkest Hour” opened. “Every hand's a winner/ And Every hand's a loser,” says the gambler. Maybe they can still pull their chestnuts out of the fire. The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four metaphors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” Somebody had to make the decision to sacrifice the men an Calais for the good of all, and stand by it.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. Churchill on the advice of King George went to the people to find out what they wanted; he followed their advice even though it went against how he himself was leaning at the time.

We have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” Churchill knew when to walk away from his official transportation to mingle with the folk, to learn their wishes.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” It was time for the British army to quit their encampment at Dunkirk with all due haste, no time for regular rescue vehicles there.

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Churchill is quoted in an end title saying, “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.

Production Values

This war drama, “” (2017), was directed by Joe Wright. Its screen­play was brilliant and consistent. Gary Oldman turned in an over-the-top portrayal of the great historical figure. Ben Mendel­sohn's portrayal of King George VI was also well done. The supporting cast of seasoned British actors included Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn and Lily James, all exhibiting their usual talent.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for some thematic material. There weren't any gory battle scenes, just some distant shots of various craft, bandaged soldiers, and refugees. The sets and costumes looked pretty authentic; type­writers clicked, and Morse Code filled the communications rooms. The map display was busy.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The drama was engaging and the British dry wit helped to lighten the mood. Since the historical developments are pretty well known, the suspense was not as much as it could have been in a war movie. The actor who played Churchill was up to the task. All in all, I found it worth seeing and recommend it to those interested in this genre of film.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Predictable. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. WEB.