January 14, 2018


Churchill made only one visit to Iceland, in August 1941, on his way back to England after his first wartime meeting with President Roosevelt. That visit was celebrated with an article in Finest Hour 173. But despite the visit being short and singular, it has left its mark. Today there is in Iceland a vibrant community of Churchillians who several years ago organized themselves into a local affiliate of the International Churchill Society. Even the President of Iceland, as a fan and a historian, has lectured locally on Churchill on two occasions prior to taking office in 2016.

Now another Icelander adds his considerable talent to honor Churchill’s legacy: the playing of pianist Vikingur Ólafsson features prominently in the critically acclaimed movie Darkest Hour. Ólafsson is a world-class solo pianist who earned great acclaim in 2017 for his debut album Philip Glass—Piano Works released by Deutsche Grammophon.

The composer of the film score, Dario Marinelli, is a longtime collaborator of Darkest Hour director Joe Wright. The film’s music captures the tense atmosphere in Great Britain during the first critical weeks of Churchill’s premiership and conveys the electrifying mood of the historical drama that is a signature of Wright’s work. The director initially suggested solo piano but also, Marianelli says, “great propulsion, great momentum forward,” all conveying “the sense of restlessness of the man.”

Online reviewer Paul Allaer analyzed Darkest Hour—Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (19 tracks; 52 min.) and found that the final track, the 7+ minute epic We Shall Fight, “captures the essence of Marianelli’s score perfectly (including the piano playing of Ólafsson​). Bottom line: this is just the latest example of how a close cooperation and trust between a director and a composer can result in a delicate yet delightful musical score. I won’t be surprised at all if Marianelli picks up another Oscar nomination for Best Movie Score.”

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The full musical score can be previewed and purchased from both iTunes and Amazon as well as Deutsche Grammophon.

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