Darkest Hour

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  • Last reply 8 months, 2 weeks ago
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  • David A. Thomas said 8 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Obviously more along the lines of historical underpinnings and motivation, let me highly recommend the movie Darkest Hour if you have not already seen it. It provides crucial backstory for the raison d’ĂȘtre (at least to a great degree) of this build group as well as a gut-level sense of the spirit of the British leadership and common folk that undergirded the flyers who ultimately fought the Battle of Britain.

    There are not many air combat shots, and to tell the truth, most of the most gripping ones are from the perspective of German flyers manning Heinkel 111s. Nevertheless, the movie provides a powerful glimpse of the power struggle that took place in the British government even as France fell and the Dunkirk debacle–then miracle–unfolded. The depiction of the British people’s strength, powerfully dramatized, is not lessened by the revelation that, had some had their way, the RAF never would have even seen her finest hour. On the contrary, the touch-and-go nature of the situation accentuates the power of that resolve.

    I encourage all, if they have not seen it yet, to do so forthwith. You won’t regret it.

  • Paul Barber said 8 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Hello David, and thank you so much for this post – the film doesn’t appear in cinemas here until January 11th, but I’ll certainly be going – the trailers look outstanding and reviews have been very positive especially about Oldman’s Churchill. In some ways it is symbolic and apposite that a working class kid from South London, whose family would very likely have been through the blitz, got to play Churchill. And I agree that the film certainly has deep connection with this group build as the RAF has been held in such reverence as a direct result of its sacrifice and indomitability in staving off invasion, an effort which ultimately ensured that any decision to negotiate in 1940 was rendered unnecessary.

    Over the last couple of years I have read the first two volumes of Churchill’s books on WWII which cover this period (I hope to get through the remaining volumes in the ‘nearish’ future!). I can highly recommend them too – much like this film, I suspect, they bring a reality to the meetings and decision-making of the time, omitted by the more popular accounts of front-line action. In his own writing he was plain-spoken and never much mythologised his own role, despite some (understandable) pride.

    Given that Churchill had spectres of his past decisions in war to wrestle with too (and it is well-documented that many still disagree with some of his decisions later in the war) it must also be a measure of his mettle that his leadership of the British people saw them through that tipping point. Given that those previous decisions resulted in such losses, the resolve to commit the (young) fliers of the RAF (and beyond) to the fight, must have been incredibly hard to muster.

  • Tom Bebout said 8 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Not sure you gentlemen are old enough to remember the ABC documentary “The Valiant Years”, that played in the states 1960-1961. It was based on the memoirs of Winston Churchill with narration by Richard Burton. The series was broken into 27 episodes that played every Sunday evening at 10PM. All in black and white and lots of actual film was used. And the music composed by Richard Rogers won him an Emmy.

    Since Monday was a school day my older brother and I were suppose to be in bed at that time. We would plea with mom and dad to allow us to stay up and watch. Normally it worked as dad thought we could learn something from it versus school history class.I remember it being a great series and wonder if one can find it on DVD today.

  • Paul Barber said 8 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Thanks Tom – it is available on DVD – a 7 volume set! On youtube there is a Churchill biography in 4 parts that appears when you search the ‘The Valiant Years’ but sadly not the series of your childhood memory. I will certainly be looking out for it in a version playable here in Aus after your recommendation.

    My equivalent was ‘The World at War’ from the early 70s. Oddly enough a 26-episode series chronicling the events of the whole Second World War. Narration is by Laurence Olivier and music composed by Carl Davis. It was bleak and direct (even harsh) in the truths it told and showed – I am not not sure that many modern parents would necessarily choose to show it to kids at the age I was when it appeared. The focus was on getting as many of the survivors of the war (at all levels) to tell their tales, while playing footage of the events they described. My family watched it ‘religiously’ and it became a weekly sit down event for us. Little more than 25 or so years on from the war many of those viewing would have had personal memories of its content.

    I’m sure that many iModeler members will have watched this as it showed all over the world – and a box set of DVDs is available. It was a very formative experience for me – and is now a tough benchmark against which other documentaries are judged!

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