Friday, 25 September 2009
Creation - Review
I MUST admit, I have always had an interest in the works of Charles Darwin, having studied his book, The Origin Of Species, sporadically in university in conjunction with my degree. So it was quite exciting to find that the wonderful people at BBC Films were making a 'bio-pic' on the life of the man behind one of the most controversial subjects of the last 200 years. Starring in the main role is Paul Bettany as the spirited, open minded scientist and Jennifer Connelly as his devoted God-fearing wife, Emma.
Based mainly on real life events and adapted from the book, Annie's Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution, the film centres around the trials and tribulations of Darwin constructing his book, and how his daughter Annie's death affected him and his views on religion. Pressured by his peers and closing himself off from the rest of his family, Charles finds himself so mentally ill from mishandled grief and personal self-doubt that it starts to translate into physical aliments slowly draining his life away.
I thought the look and feel of this film was simply wonderful, having one of the most eye-catching opening sequences I have seen in recent months. Jon Amiel produces an elegant period piece that is fitting of the BBC's history for similar adaptations and clearly a nod to their constantly innovative Natural History unit. However as exquisite as the aesthetics of the story were, the narrative was unfortunately very incoherent, getting lost and confused in the imaginative, fragmented world of Darwin's mind skipping back and forth between the present and the happier flashbacks of his life with his loving family and friends. Seemingly the only way the audience could tell was pending on Darwin's own receding hairline.
Due to the highbrow subject of The Origins Of Species, it has probably been regarded that Darwin himself is an arrogant elitist, however with Creation, Paul Bettany produces a fascinating portrayal of an innocent man completely conflicted by his own beliefs and thoughts as well as a playful sense of wonder for the world in which he inhabits. Adding a level of depth and class to the role of Emma Darwin, Jennifer Connelly was astounding in the supporting role, and the on screen chemistry between her and Bettany was a joy to watch. Honourable mentions should also go to the performances of Toby Jones as Thomas Huxley and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sir Joseph Hooker. Their biggest shame perhaps was that they were not utilised enough.
Not the experience I personally expected, with the Origin Of Species serving more as a footnote than the main subject of the movie. Creation is an elegant provocative piece of film making, similar to Coco Before Chanel released earlier in the year, it never needed to rely on the title character's most famous achievements and was able to tell a moving story of one man's life and the impact it had on the world. Regardless of your opinion on the works of Charles Darwin, you should not deny yourself the chance to actually get to know the man, despite how badly edited the narrative of the feature might of been.
See this if you liked...
Coco Before Chanel, A Beautiful Mind, Shadowlands
Creation is in cinemas across the UK now.
Follow up news: At the time this review was published, Creation has yet to receive a release date in the USA as no distributor is willing to pick up the rights due to the creation–evolution controversy. Shame