Director: Jon Amiel Release Date: 25 September Review by Tara Judah Not long after the opening credits some words appear onscreen informing the viewer (and in my case to much dismay) that what follows will not be about Darwin’s life work and scientific findings as laid out in On The Origin of Species (1859), rather the story that follows (and for a film about a scientist it is, perhaps ironically, more grounded in story than information) will explicate “how it came to be written”. Now I’ll openly admit that I am one of those lazy arse people who has a copy of said book lying around on a dusty ole shelf somewhere waiting in its pristine condition to be read and to have its knowledge absorbed. Unfortunately, I’m fickle and barely made my way past the blurb. So, in truth, I was kind of hoping that Creation (2009) would give me a little bit of a lesson in both history and science, leaving me with a sense of Darwin’s life insofar as it concerns his scientific achievements. Perhaps as a result it is unfair for me to say that the film is less than exhilarating; regardless, Creation is, though at times engaging, overall an uninspiring and in plain terms: bog standard British period drama. For the most part, the film ‘deals’ (though I use this term lightly) with the idea that Charles Darwin, portrayed as a wholesome family man, gradually through his scientific research and in accordance with the death of his beloved daughter Annie, lost too his faith in God and the church. The angle is of course taken from the book upon which the film is based, Annie’s Box (subtitled Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution) written by Charles Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes. Unsurprisingly, the title was changed to something a little catchier and more easily marketable, but post-viewing you’ll certainly wonder why the hell they called it ‘Creation’ when the concept is completely abandoned after the initial title sequence. There are moments in Creation that come painfully close to being interesting; moments of reflection where the visuals approach originality as in the CGI time-lapse sequence of a rotting bird’s corpse. Sadly, these moments are fleeting and too few and far between to make any great impact upon the viewer, or better still, a lasting and poignant impression. Similarly, the scripting is at best empty with the occasional clichéd nod towards a poetic use of language; phrases such as “nature is at peace”, or “all of nature is a battlefield” are amongst the most frustrating penned by John Collee. As far as questioning God is concerned, the only interesting idea that springs forth is the conception that losing the life of an individual might be as much a political loss as it is a personal one. That is to say, that in religion as in science, the loss of one life effects the ‘balance’ of its surrounding environment on a larger scale than that of its immediate milieu. I must say, as the most interesting idea in the film it is sadly still too reductive as an explanation of Darwin’s conception of the process of natural selection. The final ‘thoughts’, if we may name them thus, leave impressed upon the viewer the concept that Faith is a mental disposition humans choose to possess. Charles Darwin is portrayed as a man whose “ideas [were] manifesting into physical ailment”, his choice to pursue scientific knowledge and his consequent loss of faith the motivators for his declining physical condition, revealing yet another overly simplistic view of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and more specifically here his theorising of genetic variation; that some individuals will survive and reproduce more successfully than others. Little can be said for the merits of this film but for acknowledging some good performances from its lead cast, what I’m sure is fine attention to detail in its costume and set design, and indeed its portrait of everyday life in Victorian times. These somewhat formal aspects aside, Creation is an easy enough period drama that tries sincerely, though one wonders resoundingly why, to provide an image of an iconic figure in historical context- but minus the content. Puzzling stuff.