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The birth of Creation

Jon Amiel’s direction carry the day in this Darwin character study.


There is a movie to be made about the publishing of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, how evolutionary science wrestled with the religious bureaucracy of the day, and how that battle might parallel what is happening now with the rise of creationism. This isn’t that movie. Instead we have a character study of a struggling scientist and his family. Darwin (Paul Bettany, sympathetic) loses his faith and is tortured by hallucinatory self-recrimination over the death of his daughter, while his wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly, brittle) soldiers on with the lord. The narrative is a bit swampy in places, but the lead performances and Jon Amiel’s deft direction, especially sharp in handling the fragmented chronology, carry the day. (Even if the reason we’re interested---the game-changing book---is just colour.)

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