Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jason Morehead picks CREATION

My compadre over at Filmwell posted his Top Ten picks for TIFF, a couple with real Soul Food potential. Here's one...

CREATION (Jon Amiel, United Kingdom)

In this day and age, science and religion seem to be completely at odds with one another. On the one hand are scientists such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers who campaign vociferously against religion. On the other hand are folks who have come to view science — and scientists — with increasing skepticism and even contempt. And much of this mutual antipathy swirls around Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, along with its scientific, philosophical, and social interpretations and implications.

So I can’t help but wonder how a film that depicts Darwin — a man some believe to be one of the greatest minds of all time, and that others believe to be the source of many of society’s ills — as a man struggling with his own faith and doubts about both God and science will go over with both groups.
And here's the description from the TIFF website
Featuring riveting, impassioned performances from real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, Creation is a profoundly humanist rendering of the story of a man whose scientific ideas famously and irrevocably changed the world.

It's 1858 and Charles Darwin (Bettany) has returned from his far-flung geological explorations on the HMS Beagle to settle into a quiet life in the British countryside. He begins work on On the Origin of Species, destined to become perhaps the most widely read book of natural science. In it, he outlines his theory of evolution through natural selection, inspired by discoveries about the transmutation of species that dispelled the prevailing religious beliefs of the day. After receiving a twenty-page letter from Alfred Russel Wallace describing similar theories, Darwin forges on to finish and publish his work. Met with instant success, the book enacts a paradigm shift within Darwin's lifetime, inaugurating a new era in biological science.

Rather than simply recount these well-known details of Darwin's life, however, director Jon Amiel explores the hypothesis that history is written more by the inner workings of the human heart than by a strict adherence to scientific fact. Darwin and his religious, God-fearing wife, Emma (Connelly), lost their first daughter, Annie (a feisty and charming Martha West), to illness when she was nine years old. Darwin fought to overcome his guilt and grief while trying to cope with his increasing estrangement from Emma, who in turn watched with sadness and horror as her husband grew more ill by the day and distanced himself from his four remaining children.

An ongoing imaginary conversation between Darwin and daughter Annie provides the thematic and structural thread of Creation, as she leads her bereaved father to eventual catharsis so he can persevere with his now-legendary work. Her unwavering commitment to her father's revolutionary ideas is testament to our continued need to reconcile heart and brain, faith and science, love and the life we lead in its wake.

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