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RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
• Audio Commentary with Director John Amiel
• “The Battle for Charles Darwin” – Making-of Documentary
• “Debating Darwin” Featurettes
• “Digging Deeper into Darwin” Featurettes
• “Pollard on Film: Creation” Featurette
Charles Darwin writes “On the Origin of Species” against all odds, including sickness, faith, family, and g-g-g-ghosts!
Scene from King Kong Invisible Man British Picnic (1970).
Starring: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones, Martha West, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by Jon Amiel
Beautifully told, Creation shows how Darwin survives sickness both mental and physical in his struggle to actually write down his theories of evolution. A well directed, recommended film.
“Two girls, one ladle, sir?”
Charles Darwin is probably best known for being a stuffy old man with a long beard who publicized the concept that only the fittest animals survived. But little is discussed of the man as a father, husband, and moreover his conflict of beliefs between science and the divine. Along comes Creation, which shows us the inner life of the reclusive thinker; his struggles and dreams.
The film opens with a title sequence showing the development of life from scattershot one celled organisms to a human child. What’s most fascinating about this is that it is all presented in the direct order of creation in the Judeo-Christian Bible. From a burst of minimal existence out of darkness to heavens and earth, fish and birds to land life and then humans. This is an example of how the film smartly balances its main themes of science and the divine by way of death and survival.
“Go on Jen, recreate that scene from Requiem for a Dream.”
We are introduced to Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin by having him regale us with a past experience aboard The Beagle, the world famous voyage of discovery. The sequence, like all of the stories Darwin tells throughout the film, work on many layers at once. We get the basic facts of the story, the implications it would have on Darwin’s theories of evolution, and how it plays against his home life as well- specifically regarding his relationship to his children.
Annie Darwin (Martha West), died at age ten and this had a profound effect upon Charles and his wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly). For the majority of the film, Annie’s ghost is haunting the now sickly and emaciated Charles Darwin. Why did the experimental cures that nursed Charles to health not work for his daughter? Why did she have to die and why does he continue to live? West is wonderful playing the smart young girl, and because of Charles’ distance from Emma and his other children, the relationship between West and Bettany is central to understanding Darwin as a man. Bettany himself sinks into the meaty role, and makes you forget the predominant image of what Darwin should be. Connelly, Bettany’s real life wife, is a skilled enough actress to show a lot with a little, and much of the Darwin’s relationship is communicated through indirect confrontation.
The Trash compactor scene from Steampunk Star Wars.
In Creation, Darwin sees the world like a David Fincher film. It is a dark place where your imagination takes you into the nooks and crannies of existence. A bug flying through the air leads to its’ demise in the mouth of a bird, who accidentally knocks a chick out of its nest which then dies on the ground making a housing for bugs to grow and develop. It would be too simple to portray this concept as obvious as it is viewed today, but director John Amiel and his DP Jess Hall really do an admirable job of every location and use of camera reflecting the inner thoughts of Darwin.
Torn between sickness and health, faith and science, the writing of “On the Origin of Species” is secondary here to knowing Charles Darwin himself. Creation moves at a good clip and every sequence has been developed and chosen for its layered portrayal of themes, character and emotion. This film is recommended.
“You want to talk to God? Let’s go see him together, I’ve got nothing better to do.”
Creation comes in an amaray case and is presented in 16×9 widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. The special features begin with a three part “Debating Darwin” wherein English scientists of varying backgrounds explain what the significance of Darwin’s theory was, and how it effectively went against theology of the time. The production values and editing of these clips are subpar at best, and are presented in a way befitting a junior high science class. “Digging Deeper into Darwin” is a seven part series of Nick Spencer, author of “Darwin and G0d” discussing aspects of Darwin’s life and the film such as his family, his church, and the publication of “On the Origin of Species”. The short clips were all apparently produced originally for Damaris.tv, a staunchly Christian organization and seem to skew as a result. Two sets of featurettes are therefore on the disc, each taking a side of the science versus theology issue, as cheaply produced and not very informative as they may be.
“The Battle for Charles Darwin”, which touts itself as a making of documentary but is in fact a made for TV piece of fluff that is hardly above an EPK and mostly covers the European premiere of the film. “Pollard on Film: Creation” is another feature from Damaris, a similarly disappointing recap of the main plot points of the movie and serves no purpose to anyone who just watched the film itself. Finally, there is an audio commentary with director John (Entrapment) Amiel. The director is extremely well spoken and full of historical, as well as production facts. Informative and insightful, it is a wonderful commentary that almost makes up for the lack of other quality extras.
Extras: 3 out of 10
Overall: 7.5 out of 10