Anthony Lane reviews Creation

January 21, 2010 • 11:43 am

I don’t know of a better film critic than The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane, a writer of erudition and endless wit.  In this week’s issue, he reviews the new Darwin movie, Creation. Sadly, it’s pretty much a pan:

As a journey through Darwin’s discoveries, “Creation” fails, although, given the intricacy and the patience of his working methods, it is hard to imagine how such a film might succeed. There is intensity here, but no impetus; if you want to see Paul Bettany fizzing with the drama of scientific findings, watch him instead as Maturin, the pre-Darwinian surgeon and sidekick to Russell Crowe, clambering around the Galápagos in “Master and Commander,” a tale with a strand of Beagle in its genes. . .

The truth is that “Creation,” though based on Randal Keynes’s fine book “Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution,” will irritate anyone versed in Darwinism and its dislodging of faith; . .

John Travis also wrote a lukewarm appraisal in Science last year.  There’s a trailer worth seeing appended to his review.

I guess I’m not all that keen to see the movie, if for no other reason than I have my own vision of who Darwin was, and don’t want it dispelled.  But I am curious how the glamorous Jennifer Connelly plays Emma Darwin.

UPDATE:  Another lukewarm review from Salon here.

12 thoughts on “Anthony Lane reviews Creation

  1. I saw Creation last year shortly after its UK release, and I liked it.

    It’s actually based on the book, “Annie’s Box”, and I don’t think it was necessarily very accurate in all its details. My main concern is that it implies that Darwin actually had hallucinations about his long-dead daughter.

    Still, it’s a good story, well acted, and I recommend it.

    1. “My main concern is that it implies that Darwin actually had hallucinations about his long-dead daughter.”

      How do you know he didn’t?


    2. The director (during a panel discussion after last night’s screening in San Francisco) said that the Annie “ghost” isn’t so much a ghost, but rather intended to represent the “spirit” of Annie. Eugenie Scott agreed, saying that during a lunch with Keynes, he said Darwin did have a very vivid visual memory. So while there is no hard evidence that Darwin literally saw Annie after she died (i.e. hallucinations), he did write about her in great detail.

  2. I’m looking forward to Attenborough’s “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life.”

    That ought to convey the real accomplishment of Darwin and countless others, as life has come to be actually understood in all of its (pre-evolutionarily) puzzling features.

    The trouble with a film like Creation, I think (having not seen it), is that it remains stuck in a period when the science with all of its causes was very early, at an embryonic stage. Other than providing promise for future science, Darwin might indeed have impacted the world primarily by removing the major remaining gap into which God was stuffed.

    Of course there wouldn’t be a movie about biology and its primary theory, evolution. But there can be a TV series covering just that, and I more or less believe that Attenborough’s series is such a thing.

    Glen Davidson

  3. Never commented at the time – I thought it was a very good film. However I know Paul Bettany’s mum (she lives in the same village that my parents lived in) so maybe I am biased!

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