Winston Churchill was not only England’s Prime Minister through World War II, one of the greatest speech-givers in history, and an all-around fascinating guy, he was also a fan of the cinema. At least, he understood its power as propaganda, which is why That Hamilton Woman (a 1941 picture starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh) was one of his favorites. It was designed to rally British morale during the war by looking back at one of its greatest heroes, Lord Admiral Nelson, and Churchill supposedly loved it.
It’s a great movie, though not necessarily a happy one, and that combination might well fit director Joe Wright’s oeuvre — or at least, his other WWII-set film. The Atonement and Anna Karenina director has been a purveyor of some very lush period dramas, including the aforementioned titles and 2005’s Pride & Prejudice. Still, his latest film, Pan, was seen by many as being too large in scope for a director who is often at his best when working with less.
So, something like Working Title’s Winston Churchill film Darkest Hour might be just the thing that fits the bill. Deadline is reporting that Wright is in talks to helm the picture, which would focus on a pivotal moment for Churchill in his role as Prime Minister during the war. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) is set to pen the script, and will also produce. Casting is apparently underway (and will be vital), with a production date set for summer.
Darkest Hour would see Churchill making the momentous decision in the midst of, well, a very dark hour for Britain where military defeat and the threat of Nazi invasion was bearing down. But instead of making a deal with Hitler that would turn England into an Axis puppet state, Churchill instead planted his feet firmly in the soil, and gave his most famous speech:
“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
The movie is described as a passion project for McCarten, and Wright could be a great fit to direct, especially given his phenomenal eye for things like Atonement‘s amazingly long tracking shot of the evacuation at Dunkirk.
In the meantime, Wright is working on an episode in the British anthology series Black Mirror, written by Charlie Booker and investigating — as all Black Mirror episodes do — the influence of technology on our lives in deep and often frightening ways. As for Darkest Hour, we’ll bring you more news or confirmation of Wright’s role in the production as we know it.