“ Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Parental Guidance / Director: Jon Amiel / Actors: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Jeremy Northam, Martha West, Benedict Cumberbatch ... / DVD released 2010-01-18 at Icon Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL „
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Creation was a film released in 2009 about the life of Charles Darwin. I am very interested in Darwin and had been meaning to watch it for a while but only recently got around to seeing it. It seems it didn't really make that much of a splash at the release or since, and considering the subject matter and the widespread enthusiasm for Darwin I found that surprising.
Creation is directed by English director John Amiel who I'd not heard of before watching this. Doing a little research I found that he was responsible for dreadful 2003 film 'The Core' and perhaps if I'd known this I wouldn't have bothered with Creation! The film stars Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin, Jennifer Connelly as Emma Darwin and cute child actress Martha West as Charles' daughter Annie Darwin.
Creation is based on the book 'Annie's Box - Charles Darwin, his daughter and human evolution', a biography written by Darwin's great great grandson, Randal Keynes. A lot of it was filmed at Darwin's former home in Kent - Down House and focuses, as the title of the book suggests, very much on his family life. The story of Creation begins after Darwin has returned from the Galapagos Islands, where he famously found a lot of his evidence for Origin of the Species. Creation largely deals with Darwin's life as he struggles with what to do with his findings and whether he should write and publish his theory.
One of the main themes in the film is Darwin's struggle with his own faith and that of his family and friends. His deeply religious wife Emma thinks he will go to hell for suggesting life was not created by God, separating them in the next life. He comes under strong criticism from a number of people and his life's work begins to pull apart his friends and family. One person that does not doubt him, however, is his second eldest, and clearly favourite, daughter Annie who loves to listen to his stories and theories. She has no doubt to believe her father, however this also brings trouble on her as she is scalded by the local clergy for repeating some of what her Darwin has told her. As Annie becomes sick which puts further strain on the family, and Darwin struggles with illness too, it seems no one believes what he's spent his life writing. He nearly gives up completely until an unexpected letter changes things. With the help of a few loyal friends, the world is given The Origin of the Species , one of the most famous scientific works of all time that nearly never saw the light of day.
I haven't given too much away but telling you it got published in the end, I think everyone knew that! However, I won't tell the whole twists and turns with Darwin's struggle over his work for anyone that doesn't know the full story behind the ground breaking study.
Paul Bettany really worked for his money in this film, unsurprisingly he's in it almost constantly, and his performance is outstanding. I classed him as a pretty good actor anyway, from seeing him in other roles, however this is probably the best performance I've seen form him to date. Darwin seems to be played very truthfully and whilst you sympathise with him that the world can't see his brilliance, and generally are with him throughout, he's not exactly a likeable character.
Bettany's best scenes are the ones with just him and charismatic child actor Martha West. The on screen relationship is perfect and they are totally believable as father and daughter. West plays Annie as a bright but precocious child, and as a viewer I had pretty much the same attitude toward her as Darwin. I sympathised and agreed with her but ultimately wasn't sure I liked her all that much. Whilst very different people, Bettany and West play out the similarities between the charcters subtly and very cleverly. I couldn't help thinking throughout that I recognised Matha West from something else but could not put my finger on it, however research into her career has thrown up nothing. Could anyone shed some light on this?
Jennifer Connelly who plays Darwin's wife Emma is fine as are the supporting cast, however this film totally belongs to Paul Bettany and Martha West, who I'm sure is destined for a very big career.
Whilst I was very interested to see this film, and can't deny I enjoyed it, it didn't really deliver what I was after. Darwin after all is famous as a scientist and there was very little about his actual work featured in the film. True it provided the anchor for the story, but there wasn't much detail on how he came up with or researched his theory. This is mainly due to the fact its set many years after his famous trip to Galapagos. It's a shame as this is the part I would have been most interested to hear about. I guess this is an adaptation of is biography though, not the 'making of Origin of the Species' though I did feel a little short changed that a film about Darwin completely skipped out this important part of his life.
I did find it interesting to understand a bit more about this great man and was unaware of just how much opposition he came across to air this important document. Having said that, he came across as a grumpy old man for the most part, and understandably so from the things he was up against, however I reckon more of an insight into Darwin the young man would have enriched this further, even as the risk of not staying true to 'Annie's Box.'
The best thing about Creation is by far the performance given by Bettany, see it for this alone. I would recommend seeing it if you are at all interested in Darwin but bear in mind it's just a small snippet of his life and no a comprehensive biography, perhaps a prequel is in order?!
The lives of the great, the good and not so good of history have been a constant inspiration for film makers. From Beatrix Potter to William Wallace and from Ghandi to JFK the range of figures immortalised in celluloid is immense. Joining this list is the naturalist Charles Darwin in the 2009 film "Creation"
Set in the 19th century "Creation" is a biopic about the life and works of the eminent naturalist and scientist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and is based on a book "Annie's Box" by his great great grandson Randal Keynes. The film starts in 1839 with the second journey of the Beagle and his visit to Tierra del Fuego and explores his studies and discoveries in evolutionary theory, his loss of religious faith and his relationship with his family focusing on his wife Emma Wedgwood (who was also his first cousin and relative of the pottery family) and his oldest daughter Annie. Due to the exploration of evolution and scenes of anti religion the film has been deemed to controversial to gain a distributor and be released in th USA.
Creation is a BBC films project directed by Jon Amiel who has a background in historical drama with his most recent series being the Tudors. It stars the real life husband and wife team Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, best known for their roles in a "Beautiful Mind" s Charles and Emma.
Shot on location in Bradford on Avon, Thailand and Down House (Darwin's actual home) the cinematography by Jess Hall is absolutely gorgeous. . Like most BBC period dramas this really is a beautiful looking film to watch.
It may look beautiful but there is a lot of substance behind the film. Bettany and Connelly played their roles superbly and convincingly. Bettany's Darwin is a well rounded character with the slightly eccentric, tortured genius side nicely balanced with the family man, whilst Connelly's struggle between her love for her husband and the despair at his ideas and rejection of faith , in a era where the church had far more power than it does today is beautifully played. Special mention goes to 10 year old Martha West who plays Annie Darwin so beautifully. I felt the supporting cast in the lesser characters were weaker such as Benedict Cumberbatch as Hooker or Toby Jones as Huxley (noth Darwin's fellow scientists) but perhaps that is because their characters were not as well defined as the leading actors. The short straw must go to the extras who played the "wild" natives of Tierra del Fuego, I'm wondering how their agents sold the part to them. You have a non speaking part and the role is to look wild and appear completely starker s apart from unkempt long hair!
The films length at 108 minutes was just about right. It was long enough to cover different aspects of Darwin's life without dragging too much. The one thing that I found difficult about watching the film was its chronology. It seemed to jump about from one part of Darwin's life to another and I found it hard to sometimes know where we were and what events had happened and what were yet to come.
Creation is not the film to go for if you want a little bit of light relief and escapism. It is one you really have to think about, due to the themes explored in the film. I found it a bit heavy going and even depressing at times. Get your hankies out, as it is a weepie in parts. There are comparative scenes of the children of Tierra del Fuego and the first captured orang utan to arrive in Britain being "civilised" and put on show to polite society as curiosities. Orang utans are one of my favourite animals and even though I suspect Jenny the orang was CGI I was almost in tears seeing this gorgeous creature dressed in human clothes in a poky cage in the old fashioned London Zoo. I'm not sure what my date must have thought of it all!
I knew very little about Darwin and his life so I found the film very informative and from what I have read since the film is fairly historically accurate due to it coming from a biography by one of his ancestors.
Creation is a PG and that or a 12a is the right rating. There are a couple of minor adult scenes plus a couple of scenes of natural violence including a fox catching a rabbit and the poor creature screaming. However I do not think this is much of a problem, as I do not think the film would be of much interest to the under 12s anyway.
Creation may not be for everyone. The themes maybe a bit high brow for some and not one if you want some light relief but for those who enjoy a beautifully shot, thought provoking film that at times is very poignant I would highly recommend Creation. Its just a shame it is too controversial for some narrow minded religious zealots in America.
Please note this is a film only review
Creation tells the story of scientist Charles Darwin at the time when he is attempting to write down his findings of evolution and reveal them in a book. But since the death of his eldest daughter, Darwin has been in and out of illnesses and depression and his work and home life has been damaged because of it. His life becomes a huge struggle with his publicist urging him to finish the book and with the huge rift that has been created between him and his wife, who is a very religious woman. The only saving grace to encourage him to continue his work is the ghost of his daughter who seems to be the only person on his side.
~ Cast ~
Charles Darwin - Paul Bettany
Emma Darwin - Jennifer Connelly
Annie Darwin - Martha West
Reverend Innes - Jeremy Northam
Thomas Huxley - Toby Jones
Joseph Hooker - Benedict Cumberbatch
I'll start off by saying that I don't agree with Darwin or believe in any of his theories about evolution but, regardless, I quite fancied seeing this film as I am still interested in hearing about the subject. However, I was extremely disappointed to find that the film hardly even touched on the subject of evolution despite me thinking that's what the entire film was meant to be about.
The film was more about Darwin's own personal life rather than his work and the theories that made him so famous and this wasn't the part that I was really interested in. We saw how his work both changed and effected his personal and family life and it did manage to tell me a lot more about the man than I already knew. It showed the tension that his theory caused between him and his wife, Emma, who was a religious woman who believed in God. We also saw the trouble he went through when his eldest daughter, Annie, became ill and died and how this made Darwin think he was going mad when her kept seeing her ghost and taking advice from her.
The only part of the evolution theory that it showed was him trying to write down his findings into the book 'The Origin of Species' with the encouragement of his daughter's ghost as well as a lovely part with Jenny the chimp, who he studied and related to humans, which is where a lot of the basis for his theory came from.
The acting was all very good from every actor and Paul Bettany, who I'm not normally keen on purely because he usually plays horrible characters, played a very different part in this to usual and he played it very well. At times he seemed sensitive and caring and then the next day he would begin to act in crazy ways and would make him self cripplingly ill through all the pressure and stress he was under. I thought he did the part justice and he managed to make me feel very sorry for Charles Darwin who must have had a very difficult life and he actually made me see the scientist in a very different light.
There were quite a lot of slow moments throughout the film so I think that you really need to be interested in the topic to actually appreciate or enjoy it at all. I did like the film but I went to see it because I was interested in his theory not his life and so it just didn't work all that well for me.
Running time: 108 minutes
Certificate rating: PG
Director: Jon Amiel