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July 18, 2009

Darwin biopic to open Toronto film festival

It has been 200 years since Charles Darwin was born, and 150 years since he published his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species. So, naturally, filmmakers are marking the occasion by making rival biopics.

The higher-profile of these, by far, seems to be Creation, starring real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as Charles Darwin and his wife Emma; the Toronto International Film Festival announced last week that its opening gala presentation this year will be the world premiere of this film, which was directed by Jon Amiel and based on a book by Randal Keynes.

(Trivia note: Keynes himself is the great-great-grandson of the Darwins, and he is also the father of Skandar, who plays Edmund in the Narnia movies. So one of the "sons of Adam" who sits on one of the thrones at Cair Paravel is also a "son of Darwin"!)

The TIFF press release describes the Creation story arc this way:
Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, part heart-wrenching love story Creation is the story of Charles Darwin. His great, still controversial, book The Origin of Species depicts nature as a battleground. In Creation the battleground is a man's heart. Torn between his love for his deeply religious wife and his own growing belief in a world where God has no place, Darwin finds himself caught in a struggle between faith and reason, love and truth.

The Darwin we meet in Creation is a young, vibrant father, husband and friend whose mental and physical health gradually buckles under the weight of guilt and grief for a lost child. Ultimately it is the ghost of Annie, his adored 10-year-old daughter, who leads him out of darkness and helps him reconnect with his wife and family. Only then is he able to write the book that changed the world.

Some viewers may recall that Bettany played another early-19th-century naturalist in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- only there, his character seemed okay with the idea that God and evolution could co-exist. It will be interesting to see if these two ideas are presented as complete opposites in Creation, or if any common ground will be allowed between them. (If the film is co-presented by Mel Gibson's Icon Films, how atheist could it be?)

Meanwhile, another film about the scientist and his wife is reportedly in the works. Mrs. Darwin will reportedly star Joseph Fiennes and Rosamund Pike, though it is not clear how far along this production is yet, or even whether the cameras have begun to roll on it.

Related Tags: creation, master and commander, mrs darwin


This looks like a wonderful film.

After Mel Gibson's recent escapades, it would be no surprise at all if the film was militantly atheist, even if Icon is involved, because he has certainly moved on from whatever spiritual thing he had when he was motivated to do _The Passion_.

Does Mel Gibson have any remaining association with Icon distribution (as opposed to the Icon production company)? Icon Productions doesn't seem to be involved in "Creation," only Icon's UK and Australia distribution. According to Wikipedia, Gibson sold his international sales company last September.

In the UK those wonderful people at Damaris are working flat out to produce quality resources to link with the UK nationwide launch of 'Creation' on 25th September 2009. This is to encourage churches to seize the opportunity to discuss creation with their neighbors. Most of the resources will be available at http://www.damaris.org/creationmovie by Sept. 4th. Get planning now!