I am distracted from work this morning by having seen 'Darkest Hour' last night. A few thoughts linger. I knew from the reviews that the whole truth is not told. Hollywood does our children such a disservice in this way. As they do not read, and have no firm handle on modern history, millennials tend to ingest as hard fact whatever is put before them on screen. No use telling them until you are blue in the face.
'Darkest Hour' leaves us in no doubt as to the statesman's contrary nature. It gives us the prime minister who played an essential role in liberating the world from Nazism. But it does not give us Winston Churchill the extremist, the racist, the beast. He is remembered and revered for having preserved our sceptred isle and as one of the greatest of all defenders of democracy - but scholars are now falling over themselves to remind us that he in fact regarded it as a privilege to be conferred exclusively upon the white.
Gary Oldman, rightly Oscar-nominated, could not look less like Winston if he tried. He'd refused the part in the past. Enter the true star of this sinister extravaganza: Japanese make-up artist and prosthetics guru Kazuhiro Tsuji, who distinguished himself on such pieces as 'Planet of the Apes', Dr. Seuss's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', ageing Brad Pitt's head and face in the most eerie, haunting way. Tsuji was apparently reluctant to take this on. Having spent twenty years in the movie industry, all he wanted was to retire quietly into the altogether more sedate and safe world of fine art sculpture. Fat chance. Oldman, a best friend of David Bowie, who shares more than a few character traits with our greatest-ever rock star, can be all too persuasive when he wants to be. He lured Tsuji back to bone structure and anatomy, back to the precise and fraught regime of sixty sets of facial appliances a day, back, helplessly back into the depths of Winston's jowls. Despite Oldman's heroic portrayal in this not entirely accurate flick, it is Tsuji who triumphs. The Oscar is his.