After receiving some suggestions from folks who watched an early cut of this fan edit, I now have a (hopefully) final digital copy of Finest Hour! This fan edit/supercut takes two excellent World War II films (Dunkirk and Darkest Hour) and combines them into a single, sprawling war epic that tells a fuller story about the Dunkirk evacuation.
In addition to providing a color version of Finest Hour, I have also created a black & white version with added film grain. This is a totally different experience than the color version in my opinion, but it isn't for everyone which is why I am offering both versions. If you're into older war epics from the 50s/60s like The Longest Day, I'd highly recommend the black and white version...the cinematography is stunning in monochrome.
THE CUT LIST
- 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 scene on the boat to a music track by Dario Marianelli 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. The London Underground/subway scene has been completely removed.
- 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.
There are plenty of other trims, cuts and changes I've made but these are the major ones. I color corrected both films to help them match each other visually as well. This wasn't easy because Dunkirk has a very sharply contrasted, natural look and Darkest Hour is much softer and stylized in terms of lighting. 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. I showed this version to a friend and they were surprised that they could actually understand all the dialogue from the Dunkirk scenes!
Questions/comments? Let me know, I'd love to get some feedback!