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Film Highlight: Creation

Darwin (Paul Bettany) arrives at Tierra de Fuego
courtesy of HanWay Films

Already a blogosphere punching bag for right-wing Christians, Creation—about Charles Darwin's writing of On the Origin of Species—commits the sin of thoughtfulness, and is quite moving in the process. Director Jon Amiel, working from a screenplay by John Collee, injects flashes of artsy craftsmanship (time-lapse photography depicting a bird's body decaying and being absorbed into the Earth) in an otherwise visually lovely, solidly tasteful period piece. The Darwin we meet is trying—and failing—to come to terms with his grief over the death of his favorite daughter (he has three other children), which wreaks havoc on every aspect of his life. Paul Bettany is note-perfect as Darwin, whether shading in grief, showing the erotic heat beneath his love for his wife (played by Bettany's real-life partner, Jennifer Connelly; they have palpable chemistry), or perfectly essaying the torturous nature of channeling ideas into words. The film's title speaks not only to the issue of evolution versus creation but also to what it means to be a person of the mind. Creation's power lies in its layers, in the way it makes distinctions between religion and faith, and how it beautifully (save for one clunky bit of over-explanation) lays out the similarities between religion and science, from the healing power of water to the "curses" issued even on true believers.


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