Films & Schedules
  • Creation

  • Jon Amiel

Country: United Kingdom
108 minutes


Featuring riveting, impassioned performances from real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, Creation is a profoundly humanist rendering of the story of a man whose scientific ideas famously and irrevocably changed the world.

It's 1858 and Charles Darwin (Bettany) has returned from his far-flung geological explorations on the HMS Beagle to settle into a quiet life in the British countryside. He begins work on On the Origin of Species, destined to become perhaps the most widely read book of natural science. In it, he outlines his theory of evolution through natural selection, inspired by discoveries about the transmutation of species that dispelled the prevailing religious beliefs of the day. After receiving a twenty-page letter from Alfred Russel Wallace describing similar theories, Darwin forges on to finish and publish his work. Met with instant success, the book enacts a paradigm shift within Darwin's lifetime, inaugurating a new era in biological science.

Rather than simply recount these well-known details of Darwin's life, however, director Jon Amiel explores the hypothesis that history is written more by the inner workings of the human heart than by a strict adherence to scientific fact. Darwin and his religious, God-fearing wife, Emma (Connelly), lost their first daughter, Annie (a feisty and charming Martha West), to illness when she was nine years old. Darwin fought to overcome his guilt and grief while trying to cope with his increasing estrangement from Emma, who in turn watched with sadness and horror as her husband grew more ill by the day and distanced himself from his four remaining children.

An ongoing imaginary conversation between Darwin and daughter Annie provides the thematic and structural thread of Creation, as she leads her bereaved father to eventual catharsis so he can persevere with his now-legendary work. Her unwavering commitment to her father's revolutionary ideas is testament to our continued need to reconcile heart and brain, faith and science, love and the life we lead in its wake.

Jon Amiel was born in London, England, and studied English literature at Cambridge University. He directed theatre before joining the BBC as a story editor, where he made the television documentary The Silent Twins (86) and directed the miniseries The Singing Detective. His feature films include Queen of Hearts (89), Sommersby (93), The Man Who Knew Too Little (97), Entrapment (99), The Core (03) and Creation (09).

Cadillac People's Choice Award