I could nitpick on historical details (Annie was not the eldest child; Darwin’s visits to Malvern are not in correct sequence; Origin of Species was his 9th book, not his first; historians legitimately debate how important Annie’s death was to Darwin’s rejection of Christianity) but it’s a movie, not a documentary. A movie, as opposed to a documentary, goes for the spirit, not the letter: you can’t get bent out of shape because timelines are changed. Movies operate on emotions – as Randy Olson says, movies aren’t about the head, but the heart, the gut, and the crotch. If you want a historical documentary, don’t go to movies.
Yet much of Creation‘s dialogue is taken directly from Darwin’s correspondence or that of his contemporaries. There is a TON of real history here: I loved the depiction of the quack water cures at Malvern, and Darwin did indeed have his servants build a water tower for him at Down so that he could “take the cure” between visits to the spa. The presentation of his relationship with Hooker, Darwin’s closest friend, who was adored by the Darwin children, was accurate and excellent. BTW, the actor playing Hooker was superb, and the physical likeness is startling. The physical likeness of the actor playing Huxley – less so, but the Bulldog’s pugnacious spirit certainly is well-done.
By telling an interesting story, and making Darwin human, Creation will I think encourage some viewers to find out more about the historical Darwin and his ideas. From my standpoint as director of NCSE, that’s useful, indeed. The more people know about evolution and its most famous proponent, the less they will fear it. I’d like to see this movie get distributed in the US. Unfortunately, although Canadians and British will see it, there is not yet a US distributor. We can only speculate why, but the well-known American nervousness about evolution is probably and unfortunately part of the mix.
This movie deserves to be seen in movies, not relegated merely to Netflix on DVD. I hope the reviews following the North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10 are good, and also the reviews following the British premiere October 25. If a bomb like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed can get a distributor, a well-made movie with an excellent script, actors, direction, and cinematography like Creation surely should.