Friday, July 9, 2010

Amiel's Darwin biopic Creation

I finally got to see Creation, the Charles Darwin biopic from director Jon Amiel, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. I've posted quite a lot about this movie previously (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), so I won't rehash all that now.

I found the film to be a dull cliche, to be honest. It was so dull, I don't really have much to say about it. It was just ... meh.

It wasn't all bad. Paul Bettany did a good job playing Charles, and he certainly looked the part far more then Henry Ian Cusick in Darwin's Darkest Hour. I also thought the photography was strikingly lovely in places. But that's pretty much it.

The film reduced the complexity of Darwin's life and thought to a God vs. science melodrama. On the side of God, we have Emma, a nagging, disapproving prude of a wife and the Reverend Innes, a stern, trite believer in not asking questions. On the side of science is Darwin and his pals Huxley and Hooker. But it's not just that Darwin is on the side of science, he's against God, and that creates the main friction in the film and the main anxiety that Darwin suffers. When I say suffers, I mean it. Darwin comes across as a raving loon in this film. It's way over the top.

After Charles and Emma finally have it out over their daughter Annie's death and their religious differences, they kiss and make up, and Darwin writes Origin. Emma packages it for the publisher, and that's the end of the movie. What's the moral of this tale? Beats me. Love conquers all? Seems pretty trivial to me.

Besides being dull and trite, the movie simply is not accurate. Darwin was nowhere near the raving atheist he appears to be in this film, and Emma was not nearly as devout as she's shown here. This movie will undoubtedly give great satisfaction to those who want to imagine Darwin setting out to destroy God, but that was never Darwin's purpose. Darwin's religious views are far more complex than the one-dimensional atheism of Creation.

So that's how it ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.

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