Times of London reviews WEIT, and a Darwin MOVIE

February 15, 2009 • 7:30 pm

An alert reader has called my attention to a (very nice) review of my book in the Times of London on Feb. 12. It also reviews three other Darwin books (including Desmond & Morris’s book and one by the old man himself), and also calls attention to an upcoming Darwin movie that will be called “Creation”:

A fictionalised version of the great naturalist appeared in Tarsem Singh’s eccentric fantasy The Fall in 2006. Clad in a furry red coat and riding boots, Darwin found himself in the company of an African prince and Alexander The Great. But film fans will have to wait until later this year for a meaty, historically accurate exploration of his life. Adapted from Annie’s Box, an acclaimed book by Randall Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson, Creation will link the death of Darwin’s daughter, Annie, to the writing of On the Origin of Species.

2 thoughts on “Times of London reviews WEIT, and a Darwin MOVIE

  1. I just recently saw The Fall, and while an intriguing film, it doesn’t say a lot about Darwin. In the upcoming film Creation, Darwin is played by Paul Bettany, who played Dr. Steven Maturin in Master and Commader (which starred Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey). In Master and Commander, Maturin is played as a proto-Darwin, collecting specimens, studying adaptation, and noting endemism in the Galapagos fauna. Much of the film is set in the Galapagos, and parts were filmed there. In the film, Maturin is prevented from pressing home his studies and bringing back his specimens by the exigencies of war, because Aubrey, unlike Fitzroy, is on a fundamentally military expedition, and must depart the Galapagos to catch French privateers during the Napoleonic wars. The clear implication of this “what if” tale is that but for the call of naval duty, Maturin would have scooped Darwin by 30 years. I understand that in the original novels by Patrick O’Brien, on which the movie is based, the enemy ship is American, and the time is the War of 1812 (not 1805 as in the film). Interestingly, it was Capt. David Porter of the USS Essex who, during the War of 1812, while mauling the British whaling fleet, first noted that the tortoises of the Galapagos were distinctive in that he could tell which island a tortoise came from by the shape of its shell. Porter may have been the model for the French captain in the film (and perhaps the American in O’Brian’s novels, which I have not read).

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