Darkest Hour (2017) Parent Guide
The strong script is enhanced by amazing performances that take the viewer into the backrooms and private conversations of this iconic world leader.
Parent Movie Review
They say, “Hindsight is 20/20” – so today it seems obvious that Sir Winston Churchill was the right man, serving in the right time and place, to rally his countrymen in the right cause. However, in May 1940, things didn’t appear that clear. The vision of what Herr Hitler was willing to do to achieve world domination was still unknown. And the British parliament was divided between two points of view: fight a costly, likely losing war against the Germans, or to attempt to negotiate peace.
On the ninth day of that fateful month, an angry opposition party called for the resignation of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (played by Ronald Pickup), believing the pacifist was the wrong leader for a country at war. (England had entered the fight on 3rd September 1939). Chamberlain’s own party thought his successor should be the similarly-minded Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane), however they all knew if they wanted to stay in power, the only person on their side of the floor who would be likely to form and lead a coalition between the divided government was the ornery warmonger, Winston Churchill (played by an unrecognizable Gary Oldman).
The cigar-smoking, alcohol-guzzling politician is not the first choice of King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) either. Yet, with Nazi forces sweeping across Europe and threatening to invade England too, the King offers Churchill the position of Prime Minister on May 10. That same day German forces enter France and with surprising swiftness surround the French and British ground forces trying to protect the country.
Churchill has always had political ambition, but his pride has little to relish in the enormous task he’s been given at such a desperate time. (He even humorously suggests he’s been handed the job, not as a promotion, but as revenge on the part of his less than friendly colleagues.) With the intention of keeping the faith of the people bright, he broadcasts a speech that presents a rosier picture of the army’s strength than is true of their precarious situation. Meanwhile he scrambles to find some way of winning the war. His optimism for victory quickly falls under attack from friends, foes, foreigners and a war room full of commanders who believe their chances are doomed.
We know from history that this man’s words, delivered on June 4, 1940, will go on to inspire a nation to “fight on beaches… on the landing grounds” and to “never surrender”. His determination helped steel the spines of his countrymen as they endured until the victory was won. Yet it is gripping to watch his personal struggle, and sobering to see him make decisions that will be paid for by the lives of his countrymen. The film’s strong script is enhanced by amazing performances that take the viewer into the backrooms and private conversations of this iconic (and eccentric) world leader. Kristin Scott Thomas depicts the steadying hand of Churchill’s wife Clementine. And a fictional secretary (played by Lily James) provides the perspective of the ordinary citizen trying to do her part for the war effort.
Most of the conflict portrayed here occurs in parliamentary debates, domestic disagreements, and between arguing officials. There are only brief images of wounded and injured soldiers, and the implication of battles and bombs causing death. Profanities (and a crude hand gesture) are minimal as well, although smoking and drinking are excessive even for the time-period being portrayed.
Thanks to these few content issues, the film is appropriate for older children and teens to view. It also provides a great opportunity to share this moment in history with them, and prevent some of the shortsightedness that has cause mankind to learn many lessons the hard way.Directed by Joe Wright . Starring Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Lily James, Ben Mendelssohn, Kristin Scott Thomas. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release December 22, 2017. Updated March 16, 2020
Watch the trailer for Darkest Hour (2017)
Darkest Hour (2017)
Rating & Content Info
Why is Darkest Hour (2017) rated PG-13? Darkest Hour (2017) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic material
Violence: Archival news footage of Nazi soldiers and weapons are shown. Planes and air bombings are seen and it is implied that deaths occur. Battles and casualties are discussed. Decisions are made to sacrifice troops. Characters yell at, and argue with, one another. An employer is verbally abusive to his secretary and other subordinates. Bullying occurs. The perilous situation of England, Europe and the world are ever present.
Sexual Content: A sexually transmitted disease is mentioned. A man is seen sitting on a toilet, heard splashing in a tub, and possibly exposing more of himself than intended when getting out bed while wearing a nightshirt (nudity is implied, not shown).
Profanity: Mild profanity, terms of deity, crass slang and name-calling are used infrequently, along with one scatological word. A crude British hand gesture is shown.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Depictions of drinking and smoking are pervasive in this film. A character is suspected of being an alcoholic, and occasionally appears drunk. An ill character takes morphine.
Page last updated March 16, 2020
Darkest Hour (2017) Parents' Guide
On June 4, 1940, Winston Churchill gave his famous speech in the British House of Commons: “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” (See Quote.) Would you have been roused by these words? Was he right to coach the people to victory with positive affirmations? Should he have warned them about their dangerous position? What motivates you more, hope or fear?
Why did Churchill feel that fighting was the only course of action that would save his country? Why did Chamberlain and Halifax continue to press him to pursue peace negations? Are there some types of enemies that might be willing to settle differences though talking? What are the benefits and dangers of trying to negotiate with a tyrant?
Churchill’s wife says she has always known she came second to his devotion to public life. What does she mean when she tells their children they have made “a small sacrifice for the greater good”? Is it possible for someone in such a demanding leadership role to balance work and family?
During the war, King George and his family were advised to move to Canada for their personal safety. Learn more about why the Royal Family chose to stay with their people instead.
Loved this movie? Try these books…
William Manchester has written a definitive three volume biography of Winston Churchill. The first in the series is The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932. The second, covering Churchill’s years in the political wilderness is The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940. And the volume which covers the war years, and which is co-authored by Paul Reid is The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.
If you’re inspired by Churchill’s soaring oratory and want more, you can turn to Churchill: The Power of Words. Using the British bulldog’s own words, Martin Gilbert, his official biographer, has put together a comprehensive collection of his speeches and writings. Churchill’s grandson, Winston S Churchill, has also collected the great man’s speeches in Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches.
News About "Darkest Hour (2017)"
Release schedule: Darkest Hour opens in limited theaters on November 22, 2017. The movie opens in a wide release on December 22, 2017.
Sir Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in England during May 1940. The long-time politician and Minister of Defense took a fierce stance against Hitler. Under his leadership, the country renewed its determination to beat back Germany. His contributions to the fight were pivotal in securing the Allies' win of World War II.
In Darkest Hour, Churchill is portrayed by Gary Oldman. The movie also stars Ben Mendelssohn as King George VI, Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill and Lily James as British citizen.
From the Studio:
Within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.
Written by Focus Features
The most recent home video release of Darkest Hour (2017) movie is February 27, 2018. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Darkest Hour
Release Date: 27 February 2018
Darkest Hour releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following extras:
- Into Darkest Hour – A comprehensive overview of all that went into making this epic wartime drama, including how they maintained authenticity in depicting 1940’s London.
- Gary Oldman: Becoming Churchill – Filmmakers, cast, and crew marvel at Gary Oldman’s layered, transformative performance. Oldman himself weighs in on the greatest challenges of portraying a man as iconic and complicated as Winston Churchill.
- Feature commentary with Director Joe Wright