Darkest Hour, a new film starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill during his first days as Prime Minister in 1940, received a special preview screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of the opening night of the Thirty-fourth International Churchill Conference. The director of the movie, Joe Wright, spoke immediately after the film in conversation with Michael Bishop, the Executive Director of the International Churchill Society.
Wright expressed his admiration for both Churchill’s leadership and humanity. He tackled directly the difficult question of artistic license versus historical accuracy and indicated that his goal was to try to show the full measure of Churchill’s personality in a story that covers less than one month of the great man’s long and very full life.
Several members of the Churchill family attended the screening and afterwards expressed their admiration for Oldman’s portrayal. Others present included leading academic authorities on Churchill and several members of the House of Lords including David Owen, who served as Foreign Secretary in the late 1970s. Speaking to the conference the next day, Owen addressed the portrayal of Lord Halifax in the movie and made the important point that a Foreign Secretary is well within his rights to advocate peace negotiations under any circumstances—a point with which historian Andrew Roberts fully agreed.
Darkest Hour certainly proved to be a crowd pleaser with its Churchillian audience. During his keynote speech to the conference, Lord Dobbs spoke for everyone when he told Wright, “Showing that movie to this audience took courage my friend!”
Darkest Hour will also receive a special preview screening at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri on the evening of Thursday, October 26. It will be released in theaters beginning November 22.