What a brilliant combination of the two movies. Eldusto seamlessly weaves the two narrative together by having the tension and action from Dunkirk and the emotion and drama from Darkest Hour truly enhancing both movies. imo Dunkirk was a little overrated for me there wasn't that character element for me to care like 1917 but having Churchill's story play alongside Dunkirk's event helped make you feel more invested and rooting for their escape. Also that ending montage was terrific. This edit will be an easy replacement over both the two theatrical versions.
This edit combining two wonderful films does drag a little in some places because of the cutting between, and hence the pacing of each movie is messed with a little (they both are marvelous films individually in basically every aspect). But I am glad I watched this edit. I did quite enjoy it and loved seeing it in b/w. Seeing the same conflict from both of these angles at the same time was definitely something I’d been looking for. Will I revisit this? Yes. Will I revisit the original films more? Yes. But this edit has many remarkable aspects to it, such as the ending montage as mentioned by some others here.
I hate seeing a review with perfect 10s because I always think "that can't possibly be a PERFECT film", however, I just can't justify taking a star rating off anywhere. I could quibble about how effective this narrative is, but the fact is it's a masterful piece of editing that brings both films to an emotional climax that neither fully managed on its own. I could nitpick about wanting the films to be intercut more, but where is there actually an organic place to do that early in Dunkirk? I could say that this isn't my most enjoyed movie ever, so no "10", but I DID enjoy it more than either of the original films. In the end, this is simply the only way I'll rewatch either of these, so despite any slight complaints, I have to give this full marks all around.
So what is lost compared to the original films? Well, for the most part, not much that you'll miss. (Some SPOILERS for each film necessary from here on...) The beginning of this film is heavier with scenes from Darkest Hour, setting up the mess that Churchill inherited, and the pressure he faced to surrender and give up on the lives of Britain's soldiery. That film is thematically focused on his efforts to find just the right words to persuade people and inspire them in...ahem...their darkest hour. To this end, it goes to great pains to show how he relied on both his wife and personal secretary to keep grounded and hopeful. While it is unfortunate that many of those scenes are lost (along with the questionable 'Churchill take the Tube' scene), honestly they just flesh out the film and are not the strongest elements. The theme of the power of Churchill's exact words is kind of sublimated in this cut, but really the speeches stand on their own so it works in the time given.
As this film goes on, it relies more and more on Dunkirk footage, focusing on the struggles to get the soldiers evacuated and off the beach. The contributions of both the citizen Navy and the British air support play out linearly here, which works better imho. Not a whole lot feels lost from Dunkirk actually, excepting for the subplot of the French soldier. I did rather miss the reveal that he was not simply an astonishingly quiet lad, as all the hints are still present, but it's understandable that it would distract from the new, joined narrative. To me, Dunkirk's theme was actually in how all of Britain rallied and did their part, a sort of tribute to the stoic, modest, head-down courageousness of the average citizenry. But whereas in a film like The Hobbit series, that theme is beat to death with swelling music and incessant speeches, it got rather lost in all the tense drama of Dunkirk. Here, it's actually improved and brought out more strongly through being intercut with Churchill's speeches and a linearly-building narrative.
When you put these films together, it's plain that the stronger elements are in Dunkirk. I quite like Joe Wright and composer Dario Marianelli, but Nolan and Zimmer are just operating on a-whole-nother level. However, their work in Dunkirk could actually get overwhelming. The combination of the four artists here alternates between tension and pressure, physical and psychological, so that the end result is more keenly felt. The whole affair looks and sounds stunning, with much of Zimmer's score being used, but toned down a bit so as to not drown out dialogue. There is both a color and black & white version of this available, and I think I have to give the slight edge to the B&W. The two films have significantly different color grades, and while the regrading work on this edit is great, the B&W just ties it together perfectly and the lighting looks so crisp and impressive that way.
All in all, I was very impressed with this edit. At the beginning, it feels like we're watching a little too much of each film without cutting back to the other, really feeling like two separate movies. However, the intercutting picks up and is more artfully done as the story goes on, leading to one of the most impressive endings of a fan-edit I've ever seen. I do miss the character exploration of Darkest Hour, and the unending tension of Dunkirk, but I wasn't keen to rewatch either. This combination keeps the best of both, and has become my preferred way to rewatch. I highly recommend seeking it out.
Okay I have to take a moment and ask @eldusto84 HOW DID YOU DO THIS? It's absolutely incredible. I loved Dunkirk and Darkest Hour as their own films, but I'm stunned how much better they worked as a merged up movie. Cutting out the outside-of-politics Churchill scenes were a little tough given their purpose and great acting in Darkest Hour... but the decision totally works in the context of this WWII focused film. The quality of acting is seamlessly top notch from the direction Joe Wright (Darkest Hour) and Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), working hand in hand with the movies merged up. The editing is sleek with no apparent visual or audio issues. And as noted in a previous review this is now my go-to edit for the Dunkirk story, rather than watch two different movies covering the event. Great job!!
I love both Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour separately, but this fanedit has been my go-to version of this story on film ever since I first encountered it on Maple Film's site around two years ago. It is an incredible technical achievement and a film that I consider to be a benchmark in how to successfully combine two films into one. 10/10, hard recommend.