Darkest Hour Screening and Special reception at The Queen Mary
Adam took a Saturday to attend a special screening of Darkest Hour followed by a special Reception attended by Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn and Randolph Churchill.
You can read my detailed thoughts on one of the Best films of the year right here.
My second viewing of Darkest Hour only confirmed my thoughts on the newest film by Joe Wright and the amazing performance by Gary Oldman. In the Oscar Race, it feels like its Gary Oldman’s year. His work is as an accomplished piece of acting as anything else this year done by his male counterparts.
After the screening we were treated to lunch and a shuttle to The Queen Mary where Focus Features was holding the event/reception. The ship itself is the perfect place to hold the event as Winston Churchill used the Queen Mary to travel in secret to clandestine rendezvouses with the Allied Forces leaders. Churchill even spoke of his fondness for the ship itself and followed its construction in the UK with great interest.
The Discussion Panel
The thirty minute discussion began with Scott Mantz introducing behind-the-scenes crew Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, Sound Editor Craig Berkey, Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, Production designer Sarah Greenwood, Set decorator Katie Spencer, and Editor Valerio Bonelli. The discussion was aimed at authenticity of the productions and challenges.
Mantz then introduced Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn and Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s great grandson). The conversation lively between the three men who seemed to have genuinely bonded during the production and time together. All three men praised the work of Joe Wright and their collaborators on stage for their tireless efforts to create a worthy movie these important events.
Below is the full audio provided by the kind folks at Focus Features. You’ll hear a small introduction by me and then the full unabridged panel discussion.
I went on a brief tour of the exhibit that’s begun as of the time of the posting of this article (December 7th), Their Finest Hour. The exhibit is a combination of props from Darkest Hour, real letters and various items from the time period and a recreation of the War Room that was in the Queen Mary. It’s a great exhibit that melds history and cinema together beautifully. If you are in the LA area I highly recommend that you go to the exhibit.
After the Exhibit we were treated to a Reception with a Cigar Bar and Whiskey tasting on one of the Queen Mary’s observation decks. Often times the Stars and Crew duck out of these receptions fairly early maybe sticking around for a few photo ops. They seemed to be there well beyond that and willing to chat with any press or invitee to the event and in good spirits.
I was able to speak with Ben Mendelsohn for about ten minutes about his great performance as King George. Mendelsohn was a gracious with his time as we discussed his performance and other films in his filmography. His performance in Darkest Hour is especially personal to me, as I had informed Mendelsohn, early in my life I had dealt with a speech impediment.
Mendelsohn’s understated performance perfected the small details correct of a man who’s lived most of his life with a stutter. The actor never oversells the impediment, allowing it to be an affectation of nervousness that comes out only in small increments. It’s this kind of attention to detail that I spoke with Mendelsohn about, telling a character’s story in the performance rather than exposition. This specificity has become a cornerstone of Mendelsohn’s work from Animal Kingdom to Slow West to Rogue One.
Much to my delight Mendelsohn when discussing Slow West told me that he was given the iconic coat he wore in that great western. I could not resist pitching Mendelsohn to see one of my favorite movies of the year Hounds of Love. I had to fan boy out with him for a minute explaining that Ben Young seemed to be someone that Mendelsohn’s specific talents could sprout a very interesting collaboration. To say it was a highlight of 2017 to get to speak with Mendelsohn for a brief time was an understatement as he, since my first view of Animal Kingdom, has quickly become a favorite actor of this writer.
The night went all too quickly with the stars in full Oscar race form glad handing but none of it felt insincere. Everyone involved with Darkest Hour during this particular Oscar race have every reason to be proud of the work done. Hopefully, for Oldman, Mendelsohn and the rest of the talent behind the film this is one of many events celebrating their accomplishments.