Gary Oldman won the best actor Oscar for « Darkest Hour « but the movie did not win the Best Movie Oscar. It would have taken a lot of flak if it had. While one can forever debate whether Oldman played Churchill in an unforgetableway meriting an oscar, or not;but one cannot debate whether certain historical facts are true or false. The film is rife with historical inaccuracies despite its not being listed as fiction. When the main character is Winston Churchill and the period depicted, the Darkest Hour (a term coined by Churchill himself) during the second Great War, historical accuracyis very important. But then, I am rather old fashioned and from a time when the distinction between news and fake news was very much made by a discerning audience. The hue and cry I expected from the audience while suppressing my own shock at seeing Churchill (maybe I should say « old Winnie ») chatting like chums with the hoi polloi on a London underground, that included, of all people, a young black man, who could well have been from the Windrush generation. That scene, with thatvery personification of the archetypalracist , imperialist, colonial English aristocrat,posing as the saviour ofall people was the moment the film lost all credibility. This was yet again history being packaged by Hollywood. It is a joint Anglo-American production – as was Churchill, whose mother was American.
Sadly, at this moment of time when the countries thatcomprised the Allied Forces during WWII are collectively in decline -speciallyBritain, whose self awardedsuffix ‘Great’ cansafelyberemovedwithoutaffectingitstruestatus – the need for boostingthe Englishmoralewasneverfelt more keenlythannow.Unfortunately, this time the taskisjusttoogreat for Churchill to rally the forces and save the downfall of the island nation, whichif anything has aidedthe process of decline by shootingitself on bothfeet by voting for Brexit. There isonlysomuchhistorywecanmilkto control the currentnarrative.
The unassailable position Churchill has held in the EuropeanPantheonof godsand heroeshad for manyyears no chink in itsarmour. That is till 2010, when the release of MadhusreeMukerjee’smeticulouslyresearched and dispassionatelywrittenmasterpiece,« Churchill’s Secret War » opened the flood gates of repressedcolonial feelingsagainstthis man whowas no less a viilain for Indiansthan Hitler was for the Jews of Europe.It took a nuclearphysicist, to come and do the job the historianshadintentionallyneglected
for over 7 decades. It isthis book thatneed to beconvertedinto a more accurate version of the history of Churchill.
The ironythat the director of this film on Churchill is the son-in-law of an Indian, a veryprominentIndianatthat, indeed the global legend Ravi Shankar, may have escapedthosewhomaybe the most ardent market for Hollywood but bask in ignorance, unawarethatChurchill’sprimaryvictimswereIndians, more precisely, the Bengalees, whichiswhat Ravi Shankar was. Let not the Indians and all thosewhosufferedunder British colonial ruleeverforgetthat Churchill was no hero. And let the Europeans know that if at all hewastheirhero , hewas one with size 50 clayfeet.