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Finest Hour. A Dunkirk/Darkest Hour supercut, from Maple Films

eldusto84

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I had honestly assumed that someone would have made a fan edit of Dunkirk and Darkest Hour already, but this seems to be the first real go at it that I am aware of. So many people talked about the idea of combining these two films after they were released, among them the team behind Darkest Hour and even Gary Oldman himself. There was even an excellent fan made trailer making the rounds online back in December that showed the potential in a Dunkirk/Darkest Hour fan edit.

Both of these films take place during the same time period in WW2, that being the spring of 1940 when Germany was advancing along the western front and Britain was finding its hopes for victory being drained by the day. This culminated in the entire British army (300,000 men) being trapped at the French sea port of Dunkirk, not knowing if they would be evacuated across the English Channel in time before being captured or wiped out by the Germans. But while one film focuses on the frontlines of this conflict, the other deals with the backroom battles between Britain’s politicians and generals on how to handle the military crisis.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk was praised as a visceral action film with unending suspense, yet it alienated some people for its lack of exposition (a rarity for a Nolan film) and for its occasionally confusing editing structure. Meanwhile, Darkest Hour was praised for Gary Oldman’s Oscar-winning performance as Winston Churchill and its depiction of the War Cabinet Crisis, but it didn’t show much in terms of action. It’s a period drama, after all!

Both films are excellent in their own way (they were both nominated for Best Picture) and they complement each other wonderfully because of their overlapping stories and conflicts. This is why I (along with many others) thought it would be a great opportunity to combine these two films into a single narrative.

So I am about 95% finished with this edit. Just a few small things and it should be done. Just like my previous fan edits (JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Rogue One: The Battle of Scarif), I sourced the Blu-rays in full HD along with 5.1 audio. The 5.1 audio has been absolutely crucial to this edit and I’ll get to that below.

Dunkirk is around 100 minutes long and Darkest Hour is around 120 minutes long. This edit clocks in around 150 minutes, and slightly favors Dunkirk in terms of footage used. Before I get into specific cuts, the major thing I’d like to mention is that I have completely unwound the non-linear editing structure of Dunkirk. It was a very interesting way to depict three different timelines, but when combined with a completely different narrative (Darkest Hour), it just doesn’t work anymore. This presented the largest challenge for me on this project, since Dunkirk’s score and sound design are so closely intertwined with the film’s editing.

For example, Tom Hardy’s first aerial battle over Mark Rylance’s boat is spread across Dunkirk’s middle runtime and contains several different music cues depending on what other scenes it is intercut with. For my edit, I wanted it to be a single, continuous scene that showed the fight from the air and sea perspective. To do that, I had to piece together the separate shots and determine when they took place chronologically. This made the accompanying music unusable since it jumped all over, but thankfully the center channel of the 5.1 retained the dialogue and SFX by themselves. This allowed me to insert one of Hans Zimmer’s cues from the score and basically lay it over this newly edited scene. I had to take this approach to the entirety of Dunkirk, and it made for a unique but fun challenge. I’d compare it to the joke in Ghostbusters about Egon straightening out a Slinky!

I'll get into specific cuts in another post, but something I could really use help on is a title for this! The best two that I've come up with so far is "Finest Hour" and "Operation Dynamo." The latter is the codename given to the Dunkirk evacuation. Any other ideas would be most welcome. 
 

stferguson78

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I like your proposed titles, but others to consider would be no surrender, the battle for Normandy, the last stand, unsung heroes, stand against evil... I think finest hour is the best though
 

Zamros

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I'm 100% into this edit. 'Operation Dynamo', or just 'Dynamo' would be good titles, I think.
Just, whatever you do, please cut out that stupid scene where Churchill boards the underground and talked to commuters.
 

eldusto84

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Zamros said:
I'm 100% into this edit. 'Operation Dynamo', or just 'Dynamo' would be good titles, I think.
Just, whatever you do, please cut out that stupid scene where Churchill boards the underground and talked to commuters.

So I did a test making both titles in the credits...Operation Dynamo or simply Dynamo just look a bit cheap or silly on screen. A title like that makes me think of a hokey 1960s war film, I dunno lol. So I think I may go with "Finest Hour."

That Churchill scene in the tube was the first thing to go, haha. Such pandering nonsense.
 

TheUltimate

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Agh! You beat me to it! I had literally just bought the Darkest Hour BR to do this. I guess it's like the film's themselves coming out 6 months of each other. I wish you luck! Also, I had a different idea for a title; "Home", after Kenneth Brannagh's line in Dunkirk.
 

eldusto84

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TheUltimate said:
Agh! You beat me to it! I had literally just bought the Darkest Hour BR to do this. I guess it's like the film's themselves coming out 6 months of each other. I wish you luck! Also, I had a different idea for a title; "Home", after Kenneth Brannagh's line in Dunkirk.

Ha, I figure there’s probably several editors working on the same thing. You should still make yours! You may decide to approach the content differently. I thought about that title as well (Home) but it seemed a little too vague. “We Shall Fight” is another worth considering if you make an edit.
 

Last Impressions

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eldusto84 said:
TheUltimate said:
Agh! You beat me to it! I had literally just bought the Darkest Hour BR to do this. I guess it's like the film's themselves coming out 6 months of each other. I wish you luck! Also, I had a different idea for a title; "Home", after Kenneth Brannagh's line in Dunkirk.

Ha, I figure there’s probably several editors working on the same thing. You should still make yours! You may decide to approach the content differently. I thought about that title as well (Home) but it seemed a little too vague. “We Shall Fight” is another worth considering if you make an edit.

I thought you were doing a three way edit combining Dunkirk , Darkest Hour and Gemme Arterton's WW2 drama "The Finest Hour" :)

Count me in as one of those editors  :)The whole time i was in the cinema watching the Darkest Hour i kept thinking how great it would be to combine both Dunkirk and DH .  i'll be following this with great interest. Good luck
 

Last Impressions

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Last Impressions said:
eldusto84 said:
TheUltimate said:
Agh! You beat me to it! I had literally just bought the Darkest Hour BR to do this. I guess it's like the film's themselves coming out 6 months of each other. I wish you luck! Also, I had a different idea for a title; "Home", after Kenneth Brannagh's line in Dunkirk.

Ha, I figure there’s probably several editors working on the same thing. You should still make yours! You may decide to approach the content differently. I thought about that title as well (Home) but it seemed a little too vague. “We Shall Fight” is another worth considering if you make an edit.

Count me in as one of those editors  :) The whole time i was in the cinema watching the Darkest Hour i kept thinking how great it would be to combine both Dunkirk and DH .  i'll be following this with great interest. Good luck
 

TM2YC

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eldusto84 said:
thankfully the center channel of the 5.1 retained the dialogue and SFX by themselves.

To confirm, 'Dunkirk's center channel is totally music free, or just the scenes you needed?

EDIT: Unless I'm mistaken, the phrase "Finest Hour" isn't from Churchill's "Beaches" Dunkirk speech (which is the speech that features prominently in both films that you are editing together), it's from one he delivered a fortnight later. Phrases like "never surrender" and "whatever the cost" are from the Dunkirk speech and might make more appropriate titles. Having said that, the later speech's "This was their finest hour" line is in reference to the general defensive period of Dunkirk/Battle of Britain etc so works okay.
 

TomH1138

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Great idea for an edit! And I think Finest Hour is a terrific title.  :)
 

eldusto84

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TM2YC said:
To confirm, 'Dunkirk's center channel is totally music free, or just the scenes you needed?

EDIT: Unless I'm mistaken, the phrase "Finest Hour" isn't from Churchill's "Beaches" Dunkirk speech (which is the speech that features prominently in both films that you are editing together), it's from one he delivered a fortnight later. Phrases like "never surrender" and "whatever the cost" are from the Dunkirk speech and might make more appropriate titles. Having said that, the later speech's "This was their finest hour" line is in reference to the general defensive period of Dunkirk/Battle of Britain etc so works okay.

The center channel in Dunkirk is almost completely music-free, save for maybe a few sections. When I muted all the other channels and just listened to the center, I was stunned to hear so much dialogue that had been completely drowned out by Hans Zimmer's music! So in my version, I've turned the music down a bit so we can hear more of that dialogue again.

You are correct about the "Finest Hour" phrase. Churchill used that in reference to the general struggle that Britain was facing at the time against Germany, so I suppose it still fits.
 

TM2YC

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eldusto84 said:
TM2YC said:
To confirm, 'Dunkirk's center channel is totally music free, or just the scenes you needed?

The center channel in Dunkirk is almost completely music-free, save for maybe a few sections.

Thanks (added to the list). I'd love to hear somebody do a rescore of Dunkirk with classic Dambusters/633-Squadron/Where-Eagles-Dare style music (not that I didn't like Zimmer's work).

Looking forward to this fanedit.
 

eldusto84

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Ooo 633 Squadron has such great music. Great idea!
 

Gaith

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TheUltimate said:
Also, I had a different idea for a title; "Home", after Kenneth Brannagh's line in Dunkirk.

Ugh, that line was one of the worst I've ever heard in a theater. "You can almost see it from here," Branagh says, looking across the Channel. "See what?" Jarvis asks. "Not the Statue of Liberty, you gormless moron!" Branagh should have replied, smacking him in the face for his idiocy! :mad: 

And while I like Darkest Hour, it does give a pretty strong impression that the whole operation of enlisting/commandeering civilian (in additional to Royal Navy) craft was Churchill's personal idea, which I'm not at all sure is true, but the Wikipedia article on Operation Dynamo doesn't say one way or the other. Myself, I'd want to check the actual history before leaving that in...
 

DigModiFicaTion

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Gaith said:
...but the Wikipedia article on Operation Dynamo doesn't say one way or the other. Myself, I'd want to check the actual history before leaving that in...

Probably need to venture beyond Wikipedia then  :p
 

Gaith

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DigModiFicaTion said:
Probably need to venture beyond Wikipedia then  :p

One_Mind.jpg

Been meaning to meme that for ages.  ;)
 

TM2YC

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eldusto84 said:
Ooo 633 Squadron has such great music. Great idea!

If you did want to do a rescore (maybe as an alternate audio track?) you could add in a traditional version of Nimrod at the end, instead of the 6-BPM Zimmer arrangement (again, I liked that too).

 

eldusto84

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TM2YC said:
If you did want to do a rescore (maybe as an alternate audio track?) you could add in a traditional version of Nimrod at the end, instead of the 6-BPM Zimmer arrangement (again, I liked that too).


That would make for an interesting version to work on after this edit, especially since I’ve already straightened out Dunkirk’s narrative.
 

eldusto84

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Alright, I have a finished cut of the edit if anyone is interested in previewing it. Here is a specific cutlist:

  • Film begins with a credit sequence similar to Darkest Hour. Titles overtop archival WW2 footage, which then transitions to Neville Chamberlain being pushed out as PM.
  • Many of Darkest Hour's opening scenes have been shuffled around or removed entirely, including the scenes with Churchill at home or anything with his wife and family. They are nice subplots but for the sake of pacing and structure, they don't serve much purpose in Finest Hour.
  • The opening sequence from Dunkirk is introduced around the 20-minute mark, after Churchill is first briefed on the dire situation in Europe. Dunkirk's opening text screens have been removed.
  • We cut back and forth between Churchill's war cabinet scenes and the ongoing beach scenes from Dunkirk. Remember, this edit removes the non-linear timeline from Dunkirk, so the "Sea" and "Air" portions don't come into play until later.
  • A few scenes from Darkest Hour now have Hans Zimmer's score from Dunkirk laid over them, which helps the two films feel more connected. 
  • We are introduced to Mark Rylance and the "Sea" portion of Dunkirk around the 70-minute mark, after Churchill issues the order to requisition civilian boats for the Dunkirk evacuation.
  • The subplot with Halifax and Chamberlain trying to oust Churchill remains in the edit. Makes for very interesting backroom drama!
  • Tom Hardy and the "Air" portion of Dunkirk comes into play around the 90-minute mark.
  • From this point, it's mostly all Dunkirk except in chronological order now. A totally different experience! Even after watching the original film 3-4 times, I still couldn't make sense of some of the changing timeline strands. This edit simplifies that without really losing much dramatic impact, in my opinion.
  • I edited George's death speech on the boat to a music track from Darkest Hour. It really makes his character stand out more, just having some softer music playing while he talks about wanting to be in the local paper.
  • King George visits Churchill to encourage him to fight. This scene is more than enough motivation for when he goes before his outer cabinet and rallies his supporters. All this to say: the London Underground/subway scene has been completely removed. I know Darkest Hour takes some liberties with history, but that sequence felt so pandering and false that it took me right out of the story.
  • Several action sequences from Dunkirk have been re-edited and scored due to the original film's non-linear structure.
  • The film concludes with Churchill giving his "we shall fight on" speech intercut with Dunkirk's ending. I even cut back and forth between Churchill delivering lines alongside Fionn Whitehead's character reading his speech in the paper. 
So that's the gist of it! There are plenty of other trims, cuts and changes I've made but these are the major ones. I did a bit of color correction to some scenes in both films to get them to match each other a bit better. Nothing major. Dunkirk has a very stark, natural look to its cinematography and Darkest Hour is much softer and stylized, so it would be near impossible to make them look exactly alike. The sound mix was re-worked a bit because of all the audio changes that needed to be made, especially for Dunkirk. Even though most of the dialogue/SFX were on the center channel, there was still a good deal of spillover onto the other channels that occasionally had to be muted since it was mixed with the film's score. As a result, some of the scenes may not sound as "full" as the original. Dunkirk also had a preposterously loud sound mix, so I bumped some of the action scenes down a hair so the transition between them and the Darkest Hour scenes wasn't so dramatic. 

Questions/comments? Let me know, I'd love to get some feedback!

-
 
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