Bill Paterson as Clement Attlee in 'Into The Storm'
I'm not given much to conspiracy theories but I know a lot of people who are. Particularly those who haunt the tortured realms of Facebook and Twitter and dive into the rabbit holes that entice them with warped suspicions of how everything on the planet is run by 11 mysterious people. However one recent theory has caught me short. Some dear friends are now telling me that Christopher Nolan's film 'Dunkirk' and Joe Wright's 'Darkest Hour' have a narrative that supported Brexit. That they are deliberate propaganda.
The inspiring tales of how our 'plucky little island' stood against the big beast of Nazi Germany are a metaphor for our stand against the Dark State (sic) of today's EU and Britain, or more specifically England, should not flinch from standing alone once again. With that respected film critic Nigel Farage telling us that both films are essential viewing and should be screened in schools, perhaps this is one conspiracy theory that might just be worth examining. Then I think about it.
Both films, particularly the earlier 'Dunkirk', must have been in the writing and pre-production process long before the Brexit referendum was a gleam in David Cameron's eye. Film making is a tortuous process and the two or three months of actual filming are only the tip of the iceberg. So I personally don't see a planned conspiracy in either film. What I do see though, is a dumbing down of facts and a longing for simple black and white that is very much the way we look at things in 2018.
On Sunday, Gary Oldman won his well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor for his transformation, indeed reincarnation, as Churchill. Watching it on a big
screen, I would have gone through a list of a dozen actors before I would
settled on the wiry, hip, youthful Gary as the actor so superbly inhabiting the
PM's jowly baby face. Aside from that superb performance, the film gives a real sense of of the tensions in those crucial days of May and June 1940. Production values are high, the supporting cast of politicians and military top brass really look as if they belong to the period and even the King, for once, actually seems just like the man on our stamps when I was a boy.
Then, just when you think 'Darkest Hour' can do no wrong, a torpedo smashes it amidships. For reasons best known to the diversity unit, the film takes our beleaguered prime minister down to the District Line to canvass the views of 'ordinary' Londoners on accepting peace terms with Germany.
Much has been made of how fictional this episode is, and it's generally
admitted as a load of tosh, but much more important is the truth that it takes the place of.
The only appearance of Clement Attlee in the film is right at the start, as he
uncharacteristically and stridently harangues Chamberlain to resign. Then he disappears from sight. Rather than be one of the strongest voices supporting Churchill in his refusal to do a peace deal with Mussolini and Hitler, he is treated to oblivion by our film-makers. The truth is much too mundane, so let it literally go down the tube.
Here I must declare an interest. I played Attlee to Brendan Gleeson's
Churchill in 'Into The Storm' for ITV. I lost myself in Attlee's political life and came to an enormous respect for this quietly dedicated yet wily man who changed Britain's life just as thoroughly as Churchill. He was the nuts and bolts of the War Cabinet. Churchill acknowledged this and the Labour contribution to victory.
'Darkest Hour' completely ignored it and that might just be enough to call the film a conspiracy. Perhaps it's time for a biopic of Attlee. I'm pretty sure Oldman could do it.
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