CATEGORIES Hot Topic
Paul Bettany as Darwin, CreationBack in September, England's Daily Mail ran a piece claiming that 'Creation,' the new Charles Darwin biopic, was too controversial for American audiences. The supposition, apparently made by one of the film's producers, was based on the fact that the film hadn't yet landed a distribution deal on these shores.

Well, the movie -- starring Paul Bettany as Darwin and his real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly, as Darwin's spouse, Emma -- has since obtained U.S. distribution and is set to open in theaters this Friday. Paul Bettany as Darwin, CreationBack in September, England's Daily Mail ran a piece claiming that 'Creation,' the new Charles Darwin biopic, was too controversial for American audiences. The supposition, apparently made by one of the film's producers, was based on the fact that the film hadn't yet landed a distribution deal on these shores.

Well, the movie -- starring Paul Bettany as Darwin and his real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly, as Darwin's spouse, Emma -- has since obtained U.S. distribution and is set to open in theaters this Friday.

Though some may find the subject matter controversial -- Darwin is, after all, the father of evolution, a hotly contested topic in certain parts of this country -- the film focuses mainly on the biologist's personal life, including his torment over the contradictions between faith and science, his fraught relationship with the deeply religious Emma and the death of their daughter.

It seems likely that the loudest protests might come from those who take issue with the movie's impressionistic style or its highly dramatic portrayal of Darwin's struggles.

There hasn't been a feature film about Charles Darwin since 1972's little-seen 'The Darwin Adventure.' 'Creation,' directed by Jon Amiel ('Copycat,' 'Entrapment') is based on the book 'Annie's Box' by Darwin's great, great grandson, Randal Keynes. It covers the period of Darwin's life leading up to publication of 'On the Origin of Species,' the book that would shake up the worlds of science and religion when it was published in 1859.



When most of us think of Darwin, we probably envision a stern-looking young man with a heavy brow or an old man with a long, white beard, which is how the celebrated biologist appears in most published photographs (photography wasn't too common until later in his life). And, unless we're Darwin scholars, we probably imagine that his theory of evolution came about in a cut-and-dried manner, based on scientific research and an underlying lack of belief in a higher power. 'Creation,' far from dryly scientific, is a surprise on both counts.

Charles DarwinThe film documents the anguish suffered by Darwin (Bettany bears an uncanny resemblance to the naturalist as a young man) over the death of his daughter Annie, and the mental and physical illness that at one point rendered him nearly unable to function. It's also a love story about the Darwins' relationship, which is strained --but not broken -- by their opposing views.

Most interestingly, 'Creation' documents the scientist's struggles with the implications of his research. In the film, colleagues pressure him to publish his explosive book. Darwin himself, knowing the controversy it would cause, as well as the pain it would bring his wife, is hesitant.

We all know how the story ends: The book gets published and, 150 years later, is still considered the foundation of evolutionary biology. Would Darwin himself be surprised that there is continued hoopla over his masterwork? Probably not.

So how will American audiences, especially those living in the Bible Belt, respond? Since the film, like those from most indies, has a limited release, it may not even make it to that many small-town screens; it's obviously not getting the kind of promotion a Hollywood blockbuster would get. Yet, there are always those who will attack anything they view as antithetical to their own personal beliefs. Let's hope that reason prevails.

Will 'Creation' fuel the ongoing evolution debate?
Yes, it'll stir up more heated argument.54 (44.6%)
No, it's only a biopic!67 (55.4%)