Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

One of the things that I always find amazing about the movies is the ability of the make-up and special effects crews to create the spectacular from tiny bits of powder and cream and prosthesis skin coverings.

darkest hour oldman churchillI haven’t seen Darkest Hour yet. But it is simply incredible how Gary Oldman goes from looking like himself to Winston Churchill in all of the trailers that I have watched. We follow Churchill as he is elected Prime Minister after Neville Chamberlin. We watch as he tries to keep the country motivated to fight against Hitler’s army that seems unbeatable.

Movie watchers know Oldman from the Harry Potter series as Sirius Black and Christopher Nolan’s Batman series as Commissioner Gordon. He is a younger man who is thin and three inches taller than Churchill who was 5’6”.

The make-up used on Oldman made him look older as Churchill was 66 years old during the time period depicted in this movie. Oldman turned 59 during the shooting of the picture.

Maybe it’s me but I sometimes think we have begun to age differently. I know people in their 60s who look younger than I remember my grandparents looking at the same age. I am often told I look ten years younger than I am (for which I am grateful. I don’t care if people are just being nice to me.) When I see Gary Oldman at 59, I think I am seeing a man in his 40s.

Darkest Hour oldmanBut as Churchill. Oldman is jowly. He is heavier and moves differently. Oldman stated he intensely studied Churchill for a year in order to have his moves and quirks, speak patterns and accent. In the end, though, Oldman stated he had to do more than impersonate. He had to interpret the man who brought England through the roughest part of WWII when it looked like the war was about to be lost.

Now that was the challenge. In every clip I have seen, Oldman is Churchill, he embodies all that we have ever known about him. He sounded like Churchill, especially during the “Beaches” speech. I know it is Oldman’s job to be incredible, to capture his subject’s spirit. Not everyone succeeds at the job. But even actors who have portrayed Churchill in the past, including Robert Hardy, have stated that Oldman’s performance is the best so far.

Others must agree for Oldman has won a Golden Globe award for this performance along with nominations for Best Actor from the Screen Actors’ Guild, BAFTA, (British Academy Awards), and the Academy Awards aka the Oscars TM.

churchill-darkest-hourOldman’s performance may be trans-formative but he is supported by other actors, including Kristen Scott Thomas and Ben Mendolsohn, that brings the era to life. Director Joe Wright has been incredible in his past efforts which include Atonement.

Darkest Hour is a movie I am looking forward to seeing, not just because I am a history buff, but because I enjoy high art that is also accessible to anyone and everyone..

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.