Creation - Blu-ray Review

'look a little deeper and it's clear that the film is also concerned with the theory itself, examining little snippets of nature as it attempts to draw conclusions around the death of Martha West's Annie'

How do you make the life of Charles Darwin, pioneer and creator of the theory of evolution, interesting and engaging, condensing it into a sub two hour film whilst ensuring you get the gravitas of his writing across along with the impact it had on his deeply religious family? A good question. One you might want to throw at the makers of Creation because I'm not overly sure they'll be able to give you a good answer.

Creation explores Darwin's (Paul Bettany) struggle to write On The Origin Of Species, his seminal work which was published in 1859 and changed the way our civilization thought about the titular beginning of the World. Struggling with his conscience, which is personified by his deeply religious wife (Jennifer Connely) and visions of his now-dead daughter (Martha West), Darwin must decide what to include and exclude from a book he is not even sure he should publish lest it fulfils the purpose of 'killing God', a fear which some of his more activist scientist friends encourage.

Told half in flash back visions and half in 'current' form, the two predictably meeting in the middle, Creation sometimes struggles to get to grips with its subject matter and even struggles to define what that subject matter is. On first glance it is clear we are meant to be examining Darwin the man and the troubles he experienced in the years leading up to the publication of his work. But look a little deeper and it's clear that the film is also concerned with the theory itself, examining little snippets of nature as it attempts to draw conclusions around the death of Martha West's Annie and the natural law of things. It often felt confused and for a large part of the central narrative it feels like we are meant to be more concerned with Annie than we are with Charles, turning it into a period drama rather than a biographical account.

If this is a period drama though, it's a very good one. Produced by the BBC, we are exposed to talents that sadly no longer grace the smaller screen. Real-life husband and wife, Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly are believable and by turns warm and intense as the elder Darwins, debutant West brilliant and charming as Annie's ghost. The family life that we are exposed to carries the diseased threat of the age but also the warmth of a large middle-class family, sitting down to read together in the evenings. Charles' problem, that he might jeopardise all of this, is real and depicted well in director John Amiel's perfectly presented country house, chaos only occurring in Darwin's office and past-meets-future visions.

Sadly though, Amiel loses focus elsewhere which prevents Creation being anything more than an aspiring TV drama. A sometimes achingly slow pace will also hamper some viewers enjoyment (perhaps even inducing boredom, something which Danny King has written on recently) and it is telling that Creation in the end feels like something that would be shown in a classroom rather than a more engaging and ambitious reckoning of Darwin's personal struggles and public impact.




Look further...

'[The filmmakers] may succeed in getting people into the theatres but their incredibly bland picture will ensure that whatever conversation they hoped to inspire will stop there' - Black Sheep Reviews, 3*

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