Rather than the usual biopic, Creation cleverly focuses its screen time during the years in which Darwin was struggling to decide whether or not to publish his theories of natural selection. I’d be interested to know how many diehard creationists know just how conflicted this man was, how he stewed over the ideas for 20 years or so. This is a man who saw the truth of his theory every single day, all around him, yet was tormented with the idea that publication of his ideas would tear apart the very fabric of society, or as others more crudely put it, “kill god”.
The film has a stunningly personal focus, as we see the conflicting elements in Darwin’s life. Here’s a man who had no time for the concept of a man created by God, yet understood just how important the role of the Church was in modern society. Here’s a man who swore by hydrotherapy yet seemed to scoff at modern psychiatric concepts that are today taken for granted. This conflict beautifully illustrates how a theory doesn’t exist in isolation – both its roots and its ramifications are widespread.
Paul Bettany is stunning as Darwin. As a man tormented by loss and torn between science and notions of faith, he cuts a tragic figure. The fact that such a significant discovery is told in such a personal manner is incredibly touching. Jennifer Connelly is equally matched as his wife, Emma, whose strict religious beliefs lead her to believe that his work will be damning his immortal soul.
This could have quite easily been a film about Darwin versus the world or Darwin versus the Church, but instead it’s Darwin versus himself. Never mind the fact that he turned the scientific and religious world upside down, this was a man tormented by his own discoveries.
Jon Amiel’s film is beautifully constructed and flawlessly integrates other techniques (documentary footage, time lapse photography, CGI effects) into what feels like a traditional period piece. Christopher Young’s score is beautiful and the overall running time is perfect at 108 minutes.
I really can’t imagine how Creation could be any better. This film isn’t just a puff piece, written to make us feel thankful for his genius; it’s an incredibly emotive study of a man in conflict with himself. The performances of Bettany (I still maintain he should have played the title role in Constantine, instead of Keanu) and Connelly are top notch, and I dare anyone to not be affected by this beautiful, tragic, yet ultimately uplifting tale.Rating: