Tuesday, 13 July 2010
FILM REVIEW: CREATION
Icon Film Distribution
Perhaps acknowledging how hard it is to faithfully yet entertainingly depict the creative process on the big screen, especially when it comes to writers, the team behind Creation have opted to focus more on the domestic turmoils of Charles Darwin at the time of writing the book that would change the world: On The Origin of Species.
“Congratulations, you've killed God,” fellow author Thomas Huxley (Toby Jones) tells Darwin (Paul Bettany) with undisguised glee after reading an early draft. Not that that was Darwin's intention, for his wife, Emma (real life partner Jennifer Connelly), is a devout believer. But as a scientist, and more importantly, as a grieving father, having lost his eldest and favoured child, Annie, Darwin has little time for an all powerful God nor does he take comfort in the thought of an afterlife.
There are some wonderful moments between Darwin and Annie - some are flashbacks, others are delusions brought on by Darwin's own failing health - as the naturalist struggles to reconcile his wife's beliefs with both his scientific mind and his broken heart. Completing the book literally comes down to a question of publish and be damned, or rather, damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
For a brief period following its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last year, it looked as though Creation would fail to land a US distributor; many believing that such a “controversial” film would not find favour in a country where a great deal of the population believe in the creation myth (that God created the world in six days, resting on the seventh).
But it was eventually picked up and released, and while it failed to do anything impressive at the box office, I'd wager that has more to do with the package (biopic/period piece) than its so called troubling content.
Not that Creation is at all controversial or even button pushing. It is very much a domestic period drama and a beautifully mounted one at that. Any insights it may give into the life and works of Charles Darwin are on a purely personal level, which makes the film both engaging, and even affecting, but not particularly political let alone heretical.