It has been five years since the movie Darkest Hour came out and there has been another round of inquiry into just how historically accurate it is.

Before trying to answer that question I want to say this — Darkest Hours is an extremely entertaining movie about the time in May 1940, a few weeks after Hitler had launched his successful campaign to conquer all of Western Europe and Churchill became Prime Minister, when there was an effort in the War Cabinet to get Britain to commence peace negotiations with Germany. The screenplay, written by Anthony McCarten, who also wrote the book, is excellent, and the acting is superb. Indeed, Gary Oldman, who received an Academy Awards for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, was the finest “Churchill” that I’ve ever seen. Moreover, the casting of certain other characters such as Lord Halifax, Clementine Churchill, Elizabeth Layton, and King George was, in my view, first-rate; the set design, cinematography and costume design were as well. All in all, the movie also does a very good job of capturing the essence of Churchill.

On a more personal note Darkest Hours, both the movie and McCarten’s enjoyable and informative book, led me to ask why Churchill chose to fight WWII alone rather than negotiate with Germany, research that question, and, with the assistance of a psychiatrist, write No Peace with Hitler. Thus I feel a close relationship with both the movie and the book.

The movie does a fine job of covering many of the things that occurred during the few weeks covered, such as Churchill’s “victory at all costs” speech on May 13, his battle with Halifax over peace negotiations, his telling the Outer Cabinet on May 28 that there is no chance of Britain giving up the struggle; and his “we shall fight on the beaches” speech (which actually was given on June 4). The movie accurately reflects any number of rather small details, e.g. the existence of a new typist at No. 10 named Elizabeth Layton; the fact that because Halifax was not a member of the House of Commons, he was required to sit in the gallery during the debates held there; that on May 10 King George did tell Chamberlain that by being forced to resign Chamberlain was being treated poorly, and that when the King quizzically said to Churchill do you know why I’ve asked you here, Churchill did inject humor into the situation by saying “Sir, I simply couldn’t imagine why.”