The Atlantic

Joe Wright on Creating a More Realistic Winston Churchill

The director of Darkest Hour talks about working with Gary Oldman and avoiding the typical pitfalls of a World War II biopic.
Source: Focus Features

Given that Oscar season is upon us, it’s hardly surprising that Darkest Hour is being pushed, first and foremost, as an awards showcase for Gary Oldman, who excels in the thunderous role of Winston Churchill. But the film works so well because of the care its director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina) takes in balancing the British prime minister’s big, theatrical public presence with his more tormented inner life.

follows Churchill in May 1940, his first month in office, as he seeks to balance the desires of his political party, which wants to avoid mass bloodshed on the scale of World War I, against his own resolute belief in resisting Nazi Germany at all costs. Churchill was seen by the party (and by Britain’s King George VI) as a warmonger responsible for the disastrous in the last war. But he doubted himself, too: Wright depicts the leader wondering if his demands of “victory at all costs” from his country

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