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Film Studies 101
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Tragic 1 Star

Jennifer Connelly
Paul Bettany
Jeremy Northam
Toby Jones
Jim Carter
Benedict Cumberbatch
Zak Davies
Bill Paterson
Martha West.
Jon Amiel.
Running Time
TBC minutes

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As period dramas go, it’s an original of the species...

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19th century naturalist Charles Darwin (Bettany) struggles with the decision to publish his world-shaking theory of evolution. Dispute the urgings of his friends, he’s discouraged by his devout wife Emma (Connelly), and still haunted by his late daughter, Annie.

People get very worked up about creation, as in the conception of existence, having sprogs, and birthing art. All three definitions are explored in Creation, an ambitious, original drama disguised as a middlebrow period piece. Not only does it illuminate the evolutionary icon most people think of as A Beard, it’s arguably the most insightful film about writing since Adaptation. And a fine film about family, too,

The fact that what and how you create can affect your environment has never been more keenly felt than by Darwin as portrayed here. He feared his theory of natural selection — that every species derives from common ancestors — would effectively kill God. And unlike some of today’s atheist ayatollahs — we’re looking at you, Richard Dawkins — Darwin didn’t think this was necessarily a good thing. Suggesting God didn’t bosh out the world in six days and then take a breather, well, it pulled the rug from his own religion and he feared society would fall down. Now we know that didn’t happen, but it’s tribute to the power of Paul Bettany’s performance that you feel his dilemma acutely. He has the A-bomb of ideas. So, creation is an anguished act for Darwin, one it’s suggested nearly destroys him — both through work and reproduction, as he’s really tortured by the death of his first child, Annie (Martha West).

The film slips between two timeframes, one with Darwin as a young father, sharing stories with his beloved daughter, the other with the older man wracked by guilt over her demise and talking to her — a ghost, a vivid figment of imagination? — as he wrestles with whether to write. A different director might have highlighted an element of supernatural threat in her presence — she is, after all, a barrier between Darwin and his wife — but Jon Amiel plays it mostly straight and psychological, with the only off-beat a waking dream sequence that’s somewhat overblown. The trust he places in the performers is fully justified, with Bettany and West sharing a charming, unaffected chemistry — they feel like family. Jennifer Connelly, too, delivers. Hers is the role paid least attention — that of the believer torn between love for God and her husband — and could easily have appeared cold or shrewish. Instead, Emma is full of thought and affection, much like the film itself.


Creation Creation
Released: 18 January 2010
Mildly diverting cast interviews and a 12-minute ‘making of’. Disappointing.

Thoughtful, moving, and Bettany is brilliant. To be reminded of the power of love to redeem and repair, catch Creation.

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Empire Star Rating

Well said

Thoughtful, and intelligent examination of loss and faith, as well as very moving. Paul Bettany is again brilliant, conveying every doubt, and all the despair that Darwin feels with so much emphasis that it is almost impossible not to feel for him. 'Creation' is however not a happy film and I think it may need a 12 certificate- some scenes are quite distressing and hard to understand for a potential child viewer. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Radical_Duck at 22:35, 07 November 2010 | Report This Post

Quite Distressing.

Creation has some lovely images and great pefomances from it's cast. But I thought it was quite distressing for a PG, there are certain scenes that may upset children. I wouldn't watch it with them, it's far too adult and can be depressing at times. Other than that, it's worth a watch if you want to know about Darwin's considerion to write his books while struggling illness and his wife against his book altogether. ... More

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Posted by joanna likes films at 18:25, 01 February 2010 | Report This Post

Lovely enough film with usual good turns from Bettany and Connelly but was expecting alot more about Darwin actually coming up with his theory. The struggle of science vs god was well played out, but if that was going to be the focus point of the film a few scenes of how the theory played out in the general scientific community would have been a nice addition. ... More

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Posted by nclowe at 14:13, 01 October 2009 | Report This Post

For anyone expecting an interesting, well thought-out intelligent piece of film-making on the subject of Darwins' theory and how it discovered it - go elsewhere. Absolutely disappointing. And shame on Empire ... More

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Posted by m97et02f at 08:52, 29 September 2009 | Report This Post


A fascinating and moving film, but I would have loved to see more of Darwin's voyages on the Beagle and his trips to the Galapagos. Also, more of the fallout from the publishing of his book... but, then that's not the film they were making and what we got, was very well acted and surprisingly moving. Darwin's battle over whether 'destroying God' was actually a good idea was a fascinating one, and one I've never considered as an atheist. It's different today, but back then it must have been te... More

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Posted by Timon at 09:21, 28 September 2009 | Report This Post

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