TO RISE IN THE DARKEST HOUR
“Everyone has his day
and some days last longer than others.”
- Winston Churchill
Through a sheer co-incidence, there are three Hollywood movies being shown presently in Mumbai – ‘The Post’, ‘The Darkest Hour’ and ‘12 Strong’.
I wanted to watch all three of them, and ended up watching two of them - ‘The Post’ and ‘The Darkest Hour’.
Why was I keen to watch all these movies?
Because, they are stories about one’s courage of convictions… taking tough decisions when everyone around you is crippled with doubt and fear… It’s about human greatness as described in Craig D. Lounsbrough’s words:
“The greatest men stand on their values and pray on their knees.”
‘The Post’ (Directed by Steven Spielberg) is the powerful story depicting one such moment in the life of Katharine Graham (Played by Meryl Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post and her editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). They race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of the US-government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. Presidents. As the owner of the newspaper, the call has to be taken by Katharine Graham alone… She is torn with inner conflict… Experienced men around her, including the legal advisors, caution her against the publication of the story… “It can wipe out your business… It can send you and many others to prison… It can make hundreds of our employees jobless,” they argue. Graham patiently listens to all of them… goes through all her fears… and, finally, takes a call- to publish!
‘The Post’ is the inspiring story of victory of freedom of press. “The press is supposed to serve the governance and not the governors,” rules the American Supreme Court in its verdict.
‘The Darkest Hour’ is the story about a very difficult time in the life of Winston Churchill. British allies, Belgium and Netherlands have already fallen to German attack… France has been cornered… more than 3,00,000 British and French troops are left defenseless against the German bombing on the Dunkirk beach… Back home, Prime Minister Chamberlain has been forced to step down for being weak… and, it is at this point of history, Churchill, even though old and unpopular, is called upon to lead the nation… The voices in the Parliament cry: “War will wipe out our great nation… Let’s negotiate peace with Hitler.”
‘The Darkest Hour’ is the story of Churchill battling his inner conflict – to fight Germany till victory or to surrender. If he continues to fight, the outcome can be victory or a total catastrophe… The morale of the leaders around him and his countrymen has hit the rock bottom… Churchill is not a young leader anymore… Yes, this is the moment to truth… It is a very, very lonely moment in the life of this man… his darkest hour, he takes his finest decision – to fight Hitler till the end, with his inspiring words:
“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.”
It was Churchill’s courage of convictions, in the darkest hour of his life, that triumphed in the end.
‘12 Strong’ is based on the true story from the book ‘Horse Soldiers’. It recounts the story of a group of 12 brave men from the U.S. Army’s Special Forces Green Berets. This group was sent to Afghanistan weeks after the 9/11 attacks for a top-secret mission: to take out al Qaeda and the Taliban, specifically a local warlord and his followers, so the Americans could seize control of a key city. They were the first U.S. military to engage with the perceived 9/11 perpetrators, and they felt like the entire country was riding into the Middle East on their shoulders…
Do these men succeed in their mission or do they perish?
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” The tough people are humans too… they are imperfect and they have their doubts… At the end of the day, all tough men and women, have to come home and stay awake in the night battling their ghosts of fear and doubts… Mighty decisions are not easy to make… It is a very, very lonely moment!
In the movie ‘The Darkest Hour’, there is a touching scene. On one such sleepless night, Churchill’s wife, Clementine, tells him tenderly: “Darling, you are strong because you are imperfect… You are wise because you have doubts.”
Did I say ‘the courage of one’s convictions’?
Pic.: Kamal Kishore Rikhari