Film Reviews


By • Jan 29th, 2010 •

Share This:

Darwin was a scared, weepy man obsessed with his young daughter.

I’m a believer in The New Darwinism and was a fan of Charles Darwin. “Was” is the operative word. After seeing CREATION, I have lost admiration for Darwin.

The film begins in the mid-1850s (before Darwin adopted a huge, unbecoming white beard) and Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany) is a scared, weepy and sickly man more interested in the company of his 10-year old daughter, Annie (Martha West), then his life’s work. Darwin and his first-cousin wife Emma had ten children, but Darwin was only interested in Annie. Emma (Jennifer Connelly) had very little to do but bare children.

After Annie dies (we see their unusually close relationship in flashbacks), Darwin loses his religious beliefs, becomes depressed and miserable. He did everything, including praying to God, for Annie to get well. He even took her to a spa where they both underwent various treatments. Darwin was her primary caregiver. Emma stayed home and seemed disinterested in her child’s grave illness. After Annie’s death, Darwin continues his physical decline resorting to painful water cures. He dreams of Annie, sees Annie everywhere, and talks to Annie about nature.

Darwin spent 20 years thinking about the origin of species. He did not publish since he was certain his theory of evolution would be considered blasphemy. He was a wealthy aristocrat and a highly respected man of science. He had influential friends.

What is mentioned, but by no means elaborated on in CREATION, is that when Darwin received a paper titled “On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species” from Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist working in the Malay Archipelago, he knew he had waited too long to publish.

Disheartened by this apparent preemption of his life’s work, Darwin was saved by his friends and confidants who arranged for a joint paper by Darwin and Wallace to be read to the Linnean Society of London in 1858. Over the years, a few people have suggested that not only had there been a conspiracy to rob Wallace of his proper credit, but that Darwin had actually stolen a key idea from Wallace to finish his own theory.

It’s called Darwinism not Wallacism, so you decide.

Wallace accepted the situation after the fact since Darwin’s social and scientific status was far greater than his. Darwin’s friends’ arrangement relegated Wallace to the position of co-discoverer.

This fascinating behind-the scene maneuvering is glossed over in CREATION. And it is far more interesting than watching Darwin mope around his estate and having hissy-fits.

Two of Darwin’s supporters, Thomas Huxley (Toby Jones) and Joseph Hooker (Benedict Cumberbatch), make an appearance in CREATION. They try to coax Darwin out of his funk, not orchestrate any scholarly treachery.

Bettany has the starring role, but as presented in CREATION, Darwin is sickly and tortured. He cries a lot, can barely walk and ignores his wife. Connelly, so thin she looks like a frigid spinster, has a thankless role as the neglected wife of a great man.

Of interest: The complete title of Charles Darwin’s seminal book is called “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” (1859).

Share This Article: Digg it | | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)