Historical Context of “Darkest Hour”


People were on edge about having Churchill as the Prime Minister because of recent events in his life. He was a man with sense of humor but he was also insufferable, both his wife and Elizabeth Layton said that about him. He mumbled a ton and slurred his words. In the movie they say he has a bunch of alcohol for morning then for lunch and at night but in real life he had all his drinks watered down, but he still did drink a lot of alcohol.

In the movie Churchill crosses out a lot of words and rewrites because before speeches he is always uncertain, which he also did in real life. Documents of his speeches show a ton of crossed out words. Churchill in both was correct about the evils of Hitler but still people had little trust in him. Chamberlain was said to be in real life a man of yesterday, not someone that can take Britain forward. So he did need to be taken out of the Prime Minister position. Chamberlain did have cancer and unfortunately died from it.

Elizabeth Layton was his secretary for many years but when she talks about her brother who died, that didn’t happen in real life. She did not have a brother that died in the war. She did say Churchill was exhausting, in her memoir she called him mercurialis and sometimes simply mean.

The king like in the film, at first he did not like Churchill and he was a huge Chamberlain supporter. His relationship was awkward at first with Churchill but then like in the movie again he grew respect and genuinely liked him. Churchill always remained devoted to the king. It is true that the king was asked many times by people if he and his family should evacuate to Canada and he did stay.

During the weekly lunches though, they did not have them in the living room or anywhere in the open of Buckingham Palace. They had their lunches in the bomb shelter at the Buckingham Palace because it was being bombed so much. The reason Clemmie says they are broke was because they were in a shaky financial situation because of his expensive taste in cigars, champagne, and fine liquor. They didn’t truly become wealthy until the publications of his memoirs of WW2.

In the movie Lord Halifax doesn’t become Prime Minister because he doesn’t think the time is right, but the reason he doesn’t in real life is because he did not have enough support from the labor party. Lord Halifax was very in sync with the monarchy and was more of a straight down middle aristocrat.

A big mislead in this film is Churchill never went down in the underground for the opinion of the people, at least there is no proof. But Churchill would go awol, disappear and pop up somewhere in London with ordinary people to find out what they were thinking. So that part of the movie was taken from deep research, but they have no record of him going into the underground to talk to the people.

All the cabinet meeting are mostly accurate because the movie makers took the writings from all their meetings and from the writings Layton typed. To get the planes from United States Churchill really did have Horses pull them across the border in order to use them.

Both laws were true at the time, the U.S was in the position of not being able to transport vehicles to another country and if a country wanted to get machinery from us they couldn’t get them using motorized vehicles on our soil.