Entries tagged with “Gary Oldman”.


This season of the Academy Awards has two strong contenders in movies that deal with the events that took place in May and early June 1940. While ‘s Dunkirk used the power of the computer effects to retrace the saga of the evacuation of the British army from the beaches of Europe in the first year of WWII, ‘s Darkest Hour takes us in the shady rooms of the politicians and army decision makers who had to make crucial decisions after the disastrous beginning of the war. While the focus in the first movie was on the collective resistance and heroism, the later puts on the first plan the personality of the man who took upon himself the reigns of power in the most difficult moments of the history of the United Kingdom.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4555426/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4555426/

 

There is a lot of history in Darkest Hour, part of it facts, some other fiction trying to be true to the spirit of history. ‘se non e vero, e ben trovato’ – ‘Even if it is not true, it is a good story’. The vision created by the authors of the script presents Winston Churchill as a candidate of compromise at a crossroad of the history, who reaches the peak because he is the only politician capable of gathering Labor opposition support for a national unity government. The conservative party and the king himself are very hesitant about his nomination, and much of the first weeks (described in the movie) of his prime-ministry will be faced finessing the attempts to have him replaced by an internal party coup, and fighting to take the kingdom firmly on the path of uncompromising resistance to the Nazi enemy and fierce fight to total victory, in the conditions of the defeat of the allied armies and fall of most of the Western Europe under German occupation. It’s a story of political intrigue and the personal story of the controversial politician becoming the leader of the free world at war.

 

(video source TRAILER CITY)

 

Director does in my opinion a very good work in building the story as a political thriller, re-creating to detail the atmosphere of London at war, and bringing to life on screen the characters of the principal players of this historical drama. At some moments he plays with the formats of the frame, we can see the characters and especially Churchill cornered or squeezed to part of the surface of the screen, almost like in two-dimensional paintings, thus creating the sensation of claustrophobia or psychological pressure the heroes find themselves in. Churchill may be one of the most popular historical personalities in cinema, but the absolutely fantastic performance of brings new angles, as we see the quite old politician and flawed human being transforming himself into a leader with the moral force, political skills and strong convictions not only to lead but also to become a model for his country at war. The rest of the actors team is up to the mission as well, including as Winston’s supportive wife, with a nuanced version of King George VI (although his change of mind is not so well explained) and as his young and devoted secretary.

Winston Churchill is not only a popular film hero but he is also claimed as a model for many politicians who came after him, until today, when they try to prove that compromises and appeasement are not the right tactics when faced with enemies perceived as evil. He proved to be on the right side of history more than once, first when fighting the Nazis, later when opposing Communism in Europe. Yes, he was was also a human, he liked whisky and champagne and cigars, but this was not what made him great, but the fact that he fought for the right causes. One of the key scenes in the film shows him taking the underground – for the first time in his life! – and confronting the random sample of people in the train car with the dilemmas he is facing. They unanimously express their support for his own uncompromising positions. The moving scene intents to show that his strength derived from the people’s will. It’s a little bit romanticized and of course, fictional, but yet, this seems to concentrate the principal message of the film.

 

A few weeks after coming to Israel as a new immigrant in 1984 I started to borrow books from the public library in Lod. The first book that I ever read after becoming a free man was John Le Carre‘s ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’. Obviously the sophisticated world of Cold War espionage viewed from the perspective of the West was not the kind of theme that would allow books to be published in Communist Romania. I fell under spell from the first pages, and this was the beginning of a log term relationship of adulation and frequent reader mileage between me and Le Carre.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1340800/

 

I missed the very well made (as I hear) BBC series, so the film directed by Tomas Alfredson is the first screen version of the novel that I see. The principal lines of action and the relations between the characters are well kept here, and for most of the duration of the film the deep feeling of incertitude, the Britishness of feelings well concealed under manners, the foggy fights were the concepts of good and bad need to be found deep inside the hearts and minds of the characters receive appropriate translation in the language of cinema. The interior flow of Le Carre prose gets an equivalent in a series of short scenes, some happening in the present, other being flashbacks that get a pace and fluidity of themselves that make of the film a captivating thriller despite the lack of real action scenes. The Byzantine relations between the members of the secret services are translated into dances of characters that move and look to each other, or avoid one another like in sacred rituals. The Cold War atmosphere is put on screen using 70s-like effects, all blurred in smoke of cigarette, fog and frost.

 

(video source trailers)

 

Some nuances get lost, and this is probably inevitable. Some characters get new dimensions or different perspectives. The sentimental aspect of the story (the relation between Smiley and his wife) is told, but loses in the context of the film the emotional importance it has in the book. On the other hand Gary Oldman builds a Smiley perfectly fit for the screen translation of Le Carre’s intention. ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ is one of the best adaptations of  a novel by Le Carre that I have seen to date.