Winston Churchill: The Historic "Great Man" and the "Darkest Hour"
January 1, 2018 | View PDF
Earlier this year I did a review of the movie “Dunkirk” and clearly stated that I am in no way a movie critic. But I went to see “Darkest Hour” opening day and felt compelled to write something about one of my historical heroes, Sir Winston Churchill. Before I start I want to first say, “SHAME” to every movie theater here in Montgomery that, even up to the time of me writing this, has not shown this movie on even one of their screens. Not one! Shame, shame, shame. My wife and I made a short road trip up to Birmingham just to see it. It was worth the trip but I still cannot believe no local theaters felt this movie worthy of viewing.
For starters, I cannot recommend this movie, Darkest Hour, enough. Sadly I have read a couple of reviews online written by some Millennial snowflakes, who panned the movie. Once I take into account their extreme ignorance and lack of historical knowledge, I can get past their stupidity. A perfect example is the incredibly ridiculous diatribe written by Ethan Vestby. If you can garner the courage and with a vomit bag in hand, you can read his review at:
Most reviews, however, have been positive. I sit securely inside that camp. But rather than review the movie, per se, I want to talk a little about the man, Sir Winston Churchill and what this movie clearly brought out. In my book on the German ace Hans-Joachim Marseille, I wrote a chapter discussing the concept of the historical “Great Man” and whether the concept itself is even possible.
In Sidney Hook’s, The Hero in History, the author examines two different historical personalities. One is described as the “Eventful Man” and the other as the “Event Making Man.” The eventful man, can be described as the person who is simply in the right place at the right time. He is merely part of much larger events dominating his era and is born to forces far beyond his control. This person’s conduct is influenced, determined and controlled by decisive outside pressures that he is merely reacting to, and although he may indeed be coping with outside stressors better than his counterpart and peers, he is in no way able to control them. In effect, the eventful man is merely a prisoner of his environment and will only become successful if he can navigate the myriad of situations presented to him. Former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was the classic eventful man; and quite the failure as well. He was unable to shape his surroundings and was pushed around by the events of his time. He was unable to shape anything significant other than his glaring incompetence and moral weakness.
The event making man or our historical “Great Man,” on the other hand, is the character to which we ascribe almost supernatural powers. This is where I believe Churchill belongs. Not a mere pawn of his surroundings, the historic Great Man finds the courage and intestinal fortitude to control his own destiny and to successfully manipulate his surroundings to his advantage. Because of this ability to shape and control the events around him, the Great Man becomes a significant part of those larger events by driving them in one direction or the other. The Great Man, through his outstanding character, intelligence, will and/or abilities has the capacity to accomplish specific goals or purposes.
The Great Man Theory states, “major developments of human history are accounted for by the great men who sometimes seem to exert an almost superhuman control over the fate of their generation.” It is important to realize that “Great Men” need not be “nice” men or those who fight on our side. History is full of corrupt, criminal, malevolent men and women, Adolf Hitler for example, who by the nature of their accomplishments can only be judged as evil yet still maintain the status of historically great personalities.
Whomever this person may be, good or evil, the historical great man exists at some level beyond his own measure. These men (or women), by their very nature, are often so gifted, talented or charismatic that the rules restricting the operation and movements of others seem not to hinder them at all. They appear to be in many ways, the master of their circumstances, and with that, their fate as well. They also tend to reshape and adjust their surroundings in order to fit their own ideas and concepts of the way they feel their environment should be.
I personally believe a superior person, or rather a person of superior ability, can be decisive within situations where others’ abilities fail. The Great Man’s personality, stamina, education, physical prowess, values, integrity, character, charisma, oratory skills and/or judgment all play a part in setting himself apart from his contemporaries and rivals. All these attributes have an impact on the way he manipulates his environment. This is in essence what makes the great man “Great.”
In his book Preface to History, Carl Gustavson discusses four “maxims” concerning the historical great man.
1. Long term trends are far less likely to be controlled or determined by an individual hero. There appears to be a limit to just how much an individual can do by himself in an attempt to change and shape the outcome of any historical event.
2. Most cases of great influence throughout history are indeed usually the right man at the right time.
3. “The occasional genius by extremely dexterous and willful actions, may achieve ‘historical mutation.’” In other words, the rare person can actually achieve world-changing greatness through his or her physical actions.
4. Perhaps most important maxim is that every historical situation is unique and must therefore be judged on its own merit. No universal formula exists and it is impossible to determine exactly who is going to emerge as a significant historical figure.
So again, where does this leave us with Winston Churchill? I believe the movie the Darkest Hour clearly paints him in the corner of the historical “Great Man.” He was in no way merely a spectator to the events portrayed in the movie. This film takes a very short snapshot of England in May 1940. Neville Chamberlain has just been booted out as Prime Minister and the search for his replacement begins. Although Churchill eventually gets the nod, it was not an easy transition and many people fought against him. Meanwhile, the German army and Luftwaffe have just rolled through most of Western Europe and France is about to fall. At Dunkirk, 330,000 men are stranded on the beach and are at risk of being captured or even completely wiped out. It is indeed a dark time for England that the movie captures spectacularly.
At that time in their history, I believe only a man of Churchill’s strength, charisma and never surrender attitude alone kept England from going under. Where many pacifist and cowardly members of Parliament wanted a peace treaty with the Germans and many were equally resigned to having the men at Dunkirk captured, Churchill alone said, “No, not on my watch.” It was his idea and his idea alone to call up the civilian boats to go to Dunkirk and help with the evacuation. It was his will and his vision that saved the British army in 1940. Although Churchill was indeed the right man at the right time, he was also the dominate personality that led England to victory in WWII.
In the movie, there are several important scenes that will make you understand what Churchill was confronted with. His addresses to Parliament, his two meetings with the King and his phone call to President Roosevelt. ‘Nuf said. One thing I found interesting were certain similarities between Churchill and President Trump. No I am not comparing the two, but both men faced and continue to face fierce criticism not necessarily because of actions done but simply because of the words they use. A lot of political opposition came simply because both men basically said or say mean things that people need but don’t want to hear. This comes out, albeit I believe unintentionally, in the movie several times.
If the Montgomery theaters ever get off their butts and get this movie here, I highly recommend seeing it. It is one of the best movies I have seen in years and I really like the way the focus of the movie is just a short snapshot in time. If you read any really negative reviews, just consider the source.As for me, I give this movie 3.5 out of 4 diving Stukas.
I am sure you have seen the article in the
Washington Examiner listing my 81 major
accomplishments in my first year. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/year-one-list-81-major-trump-achievements-11-obama-legacy-items-repealed/article/2644159
What do you think?
Sir, I am impressed. Anyone with an objective eye should be as well. But the press will not let up on you and will continue to focus, not on your achievements but rather on your Twitter postings. After watching “Darkest Hour” I became infinitely aware of the word, “legacy.” Winston Churchill’s legacy is immense. Catch phrases like, “We will never surrender,” “Never has so much owed by so many to so few,” “This is not the end. This not even the beginning of the end but rather this is the end of the beginning,” and “An iron curtain has descended over Europe” will forever immortalize the man in addition to his numerous and sizeable accomplishments. Sir, never get angry when someone tries to hang you with the rope you have just given them. Think of your legacy. Seven years from now when you climb aboard Marine One for the last time and lift off the White House lawn, what do you want to be remembered by? Your impressive accomplishments or the fact that you slammed some idiot snowflake, an irreverent NFL player, a clueless basketball player’s father or your feud with Rosie O? Choose the former. Don’t give the leftist press any unwarranted ammunition. The Trump name will remain in American history forever while these peons you fight with on Twitter will all be forgotten by next Tuesday. Be our modern-day Churchill.