Churchill: The Man, the Legend, the Drunk
The Darkest Hour movie is a biopic detailing Winston Churchill’s story during the early days of World War II.
In this day and age, great movies are hard to come by. Even more rare is the opportunity to see a great movie, meet a Hollywood icon, and rub elbows with the direct descendant of one of the most prolific historical figures of the 20th Century. So, when Focus Features invited me to screen their newest film, Darkest Hour, then join them for an exclusive preview of Their Finest Hours, the upcoming special exhibit aboard the Queen Mary, followed by a sunset reception on the deck of the magnificent ocean liner replete with fine scotch and cigars, I jumped at the chance.
Darkest Hour is a biopic detailing Winston Churchill’s story during the early days of World War II. With the entire British Army surrounded by the Nazis at the beaches of Dunkirk, and France ready to surrender to Germany, the fall of Western Europe to the Third Reich appears imminent. Churchill, as newly appointed British Prime Minister, must decide whether to negotiate a peace treaty with Hitler and save his people from brutal invasion, or lead his country into war against a seemingly unstoppable adversary.
The role of Churchill falls on the shoulders of Hollywood legend, Gary Oldman, who’s transformation is astounding. In his Oscar worthy performance, Oldman captures every nuance of the noble statesman. Winston’s great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, remarked how even he, upon seeing Gary on set, felt he was looking at his dearly departed relative. Furthermore, Randolph credited the writers with capturing Winston’s dynamic personality. A stalwart politician, Churchill is remembered by his family and friends as an affable character known for his sense of humor. Oldman’s tour de force is complimented by stellar performances from Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, Kristin Scott Thomas as Clemmie Churchill, and Lilly James as Churchill’s Secretary, Elizabeth Layton.
After screening the film, I was invited onboard the Queen Mary to preview their upcoming special exhibit, Their Finest Hours. During World War II, the Queen Mary played a pivotal role as the “Grey Ghost”. Painted a camouflage grey, the Queen Mary was the largest and fastest troopship to sail in the British Fleet, capable of transporting 16,000 troops at 30 knots. Churchill and his war cabinet made several transatlantic voyages on the Queen Mary. In fact, D Day and the fall of the Third Reich were plotted aboard the mighty ocean liner. Such a historical relationship, makes the Queen Mary a natural choice for an exhibit showcasing several Churchill artifacts and letters along with set pieces from DARKEST HOUR, including the replicas of the War Rooms.
For the perfect ending to a truly unforgettable day, Focus Features hosted a sunset cocktail hour on the top deck of the Queen Mary that Churchill himself would have delighted in attending. It is no secret that Winston thoroughly enjoyed fine scotch and cigars, and the reception was abundant with both. I had a chance to chat with Randolph Churchill, who regaled us with more stories of his charismatic great-grandfather.
A great writer and orator, Churchill is known for his effectual quotes. While talking with us, Randolph shared one his favorite and more lighthearted quotes from his great-grandfather, “We are all worms, but I’d like to think that I am glowworm.” Well a glowworm you were indeed Mr. Churchill, and thanks to your unwavering fortitude and masterful films such as Darkest Hour you will continue to shine bright throughout history.