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3.5 out of 5 stars
Creation [DVD]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2010
Creation is supposedly about the origin of Darwins seminal book-The Origin of the Species and has an excellent cast including a brooding and restrained Paul Bettany and an impressive Jennifer Connelly as his wife. That the film does not deliver this story in its entirety is not surprising since Darwin led a crowded and studious life. However, it might have been better to call it, Annie's Box (since this is the book by Randal Keynes that it is based on) Indeed the central crux of the film is the devastating loss of Darwin's oldest daughter,Annie which in the books view confirmed Darwins loss of faith and drove him on to consider his scientific theories- theories he was unable to write down because of his grief and due to his knowledge of how they might be offensive to a religious society as epitomised by the devout Connelly, his wife. So, there are too many scenes where Darwin is forced to rationalize ideas by talking to the ghost of his daughter (these become insipid in the end) and not enough scenes where he is engaged by the thoughts of society. That wonderful actor, Toby Jones is credited as Huxley but only gets one scene. There are certainly atmospheric shots of flashbacks to the Beagle; his observations of nature; his experiments and his own battle with illness.
However, in only focussing on the death of his daughter one gets the obvious; that he was devastated and unable to function- which doesn't always provide the dynamic for a film- too many shots of Bettany looking sullen and distressed; that he has to face up to the death of his daughter before he can function and write again is not enough to sustain the narrative of a whole film. So nicely shot; well acted but heavily restricted by its choice of source material- worth watching but ultimately too worthy to provide the film that is fighting to evolve- specious rather than original.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2010
A 'nice' film, with an excellent performance by Paul Bettany (as Darwin) and his real-life wife, American-born Jennifer Connelly, as Darwin's wife, Emma. I found the story of Darwin's life and that of his family very interesting. Loads of details I personally never knew before. At the end of the film it is stipulated that the film is based on the book Annie's Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution, in fact written by Darwin's great great grandson, Randal Keynes. The book has apparently been re-edited with a new title, Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin. On the DVD there is over an hour of excellent special features, showing that, I quote, the film is based, to some extent only, on conjecture, 'a line drawn between two known facts', and there are loads of interviews (including that of Randal Keynes, mentioning his own childhood memories of his great great grandfather's house, and the Box) also going into the historical implications of Darwin's theory. The DVD is worth it, for the special features alone ... A BBC film, partly financed by the British Lottery!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2011
Beautifully filmed, great acting, wonderful soundtrack.
Another great bit of British BBC periodical costume drama.
And yet....?
Is this a relatively new phenomena... or have humans been doing this to each other for millenia? I'm referring to the deliberate falsification of historical events for public consumption, designed to be disseminated on a large scale, and perpetrated under the excuse of 'entertainment'?
Perhaps this is the peculiar weakness of our own time?
I become more and more aware of this possibility the older I get.

I know that 'Artistic licence' is the excuse,
but I do start to wonder after watching this film how much of it is deliberate manipulation of public opinion (propaganda) done to serve the agenda of current 'causes'. (E.g. such as the 'Carlos The Jackal film', etc.)

This film CREATION is a good example of that (e.g. was that title deliberately chosen to attract and influence/re-educate 'Creationists' and Christians?)

It's advertised as "The true story of Charles Darwin".

The TRUE story?!! :-0

The whole thrust of the film is that Darwin was an atheist who was cajoled into writing 'On the Origin of Species' as a necessary strategy in a battle against 'religion' and the idea of a 'Creator Deity.

But that is not "true", as Darwin himself stated:
"when I wrote The Origin of Species, my faith in God was as strong as that of a bishop."

The secondary idea appears to be perpetuating the idea that there was - and still is (?) - a battle going on between 'science' and 'religion'.
Thomas Huxley is presented in the film as thinking that science and religion were intrinsically opposed.
Yet here is what Huxley actually wrote about 'science' and 'religion':

"The antagonism between science and religion, about which we hear so much, appears to me to be purely factitious - fabricated, on the one hand, by short-sighted religious people who confound a certain branch of science, theology, with religion; and, on the other, by equally short-sighted scientific people who forget that science takes for its province only that which is susceptible of clear intellectual comprehension". [T.H.Huxley, "The Interpreters of Genesis and the Interpreters of Nature" in Science and Hebrew Tradition, (London: Macmillan, 1904), pp. 160-161.)]

More aspects of the film that are not "true",

- Curiously more than half of the film falsely depicts Darwin talking to an apparition of his deceased daughter Annie and going slightly mad, (tearing down his dovecot/hydrowater tower and running around the garden ordering his invisible dead daughter to 'come back here'.

- The Vicar of Downes is falsely represented and made to be the 'baddie' of the film. A rift in their friendship towards the end of Darwin's life is falsely depicted.

- But I suppose the biggest deviation from fact and what strikes me as the biggest deliberate deception perpetrated under the guise of 'entertainment' has to be the presentation of Darwin as an athiest and his gradual rejection of victorian Christianity falsely shown as him categorically rejecting the concept of a cosmic Creator.

That's quite a bit of 'artistic licence' going on there.

Strikes me as more like lying about the past to win today's perceived 'battles' (viz. Evolution versus I.D perhaps?)

It IS correct that Darwin DID come to consider religion as a tribal survival strategy
Yet at the time of publishing 'On the Origin of Species' (which is where the film ends) he still believed that there was a God who was the "ultimate lawgiver".
And even at the end of his life Darwin never did reject a belief in a Creator God.
He DID gradually cease to believe in and reject Victorian Christianity.
But the two are NOT the same thing (Dawkins appears to make the same mistake).
Contrary to the film's depiction, Darwin remained close friends with the vicar of Downes, John Innes, all his life plus continued to play a leading part in the parish work of his local church.

Darwin wrote: "...[it is] absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist".

In 1879 he wrote: "I have NEVER been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. - I think that generally... an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind."

I suppose the BIG question I am pondering is why people in positions of power and control in the media today (the BBC) feel the need to deceive viewers about all that?
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2010
The previous reviewer giving this film a single star seems to have seen a different film to the one I saw. This film is beautifully shot and acted by all of its actors and actresses. As usual Paul Bettany is simply outstanding. This film is incredibly thought provoking for it deals with so many subjects: parenthood, religion, obsessiveness to the point of madness, death, bereavement, mental illness and perhaps above all - great love.
This is a serious film about serious subjects. It should make you think hard about your own life and your own values. I heartily recommend this film to all who want more than just entertainment
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 September 2010
Very well acted and intelligent.

Paul Bettany plays Darwin at three stages of his life, struggling with the death of his daughter, and wrestling with whether or not to unleash his theory evolution on the world and thus create the firestorm he knows it will both with the church and his religious wife (a luminous Jennifer Connelly).

It doesn't all work, and the philosophical arguments are occasionally reduced to near platitudes, but as an emotional portrait of suffering though loss and metaphysical confusion - the struggle with the meaning of life, love and truth - it has more than it's fair share of powerful and touching scenes.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2009
I enjoyed this film. At times it felt like I was watching a big screen presentation of a Timewatch drama-documentary that the BBC are so very good at. It is ostensibly about how Darwin came to write his seminal work "On the Origin of Species;" but it is much more than that. It is the story of how loving parents lost their daughter, how one retreated into science and the other into religion, the blame they felt and transferred on to others; and the eventual redemption they gave each other. That story could have been set against any backdrop and achieved a similar emotive response in a sympathetic audience. I went on my own to see it because my wife is not interested in science. However, this film is 2 stories - the history of science and the grief driven dysfunctional dynamics of human experience. It was the former that drove me to see the film but the latter level was a welcome surprise. With a different title and/or a marginally different publicity campaign people such as my wife would have probably gone to see it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2010
This is a very sad film - I came to it with very little knowledge of Darwin's life and so was unaware of the fact that he had a daughter who died. The film is more about his grief in the years that follow rather than any passion and excitement behind the research that led to 'The Origin of the Species'. It is very well acted and feels very atmospheric but I would not say that it is enjoyable. It also doesn't really give a sense of the impact the theory would have on society as a whole. It is depicted on a much smaller scale as the conflict between the beliefs of Darwin and his religious wife. It is a relief when Darwin finally begins writing his book in the last 10 minutes of the film and begins to repair the relationships that have suffered during his crisis of conscience/grief. Worth watching but hard work at times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2011
Both my wife and I watched this together and found it harrowing and helpful in equal proportions. We also then watched the additional features, including the short videos produced by Nick Pollard and Damaris Trust, exploring the interaction between science and faith - they weren't bad either.

As a piece of 'entertainment', we thought the film worked well: the acting was very powerful and persuasive (I particularly liked Darwin's riposte to the Vicar's (played by Jeremy Northam) trite observations), the cinematography was well composed and the music quite beautiful.

In terms of where the film focused, I think I would disagree with the majority of negative reviews here: the film is, at least in part, about the relational, emotional and spiritual components to the very lengthy gestation of The Origin of Species. Most or many of us know a great deal about Darwin the great scientist, but we know a great deal less about Darwin the family man. And we especially don't know much about Darwin the grieving father. We thought that the film did actually help enormously to bring out the various forces and dynamics which combined to bring Darwin to the point of publication. We think of Darwin as the absolutely rigorous scientist, and perhaps that view is an accurate one. But anyone who has read some of his writings on 'religion' will have seen a far less objective and rational individual - the film helps to bring out his humanity in its fullness.

Several other reviewers have commented on the disjointed chronology employed by the film-maker. Initially, I wasn't sure what I thought of it, but in hindsight I think it did work pretty well. In fact, the cutting back to scenes when Annie is alive, and then fast-forwarding to Darwin's hallucinations helps to underscore the absolutely fundamental lasting impact we have in each other's lives. Far from human beings merely being vehicles for the perpetuation of genetic material, we find each other abidingly precious and cannot let those we love 'go'.

Great film!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Paul Bettany plays a frail, if not half crazed Darwin struggling to write his first book. Based on letters and journals, primarily from Darwin's children, the film offers a human look at Darwin, the man. The theory of evolution is and its ideas are introduced sporadically throughout the story, making his work secondary to the tale. Jennifer Connelly plays his concerned, somewhat non-supportive wife who too must deal the traditional ways and her love for her husband. What I loved most about the film was the magical relationship Darwin had with his daughter Annie, clearly his favorite.

The downside I have is the name of the film and cover design. Darwinism has nothing to do with creation. The image of Darwin with the baby Orangutan, fingers touching are clearly symbolic of God and man in the Sistine Chapel. While Darwin's worked stepped on the church's toes (Catholic church now supports Darwin's teaching) Darwin was no astrophysicist. His work was strictly how life has evolved through small changes and variations, using his knowledge on botany. It has zero to do with creation.

I did not like Bettany or Connelly in their roles, nor did I like the screenplay and directing and editing of the film. It was far too haphazard of a story. The theme, what ever it was, wasn't driven home. Bettany and Connelly lacked fire. It was good to see once as a semi-docudrama, but overall it was on the boring side.

No f-bombs or sex. rear nudity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2014
Definitely a mistitled film. It is nothing to do with creation, although since evolution (development of life) is quite different from creation (origin of life, not species) the choice of title is doubly puzzling. Alas the film suffers from the stumbling block that affects so many films about scientific concepts - film makers, scriptwriters, producers seem unable to understand the scientific content of their story and assume that no one else does and so won't notice.
The story of Darwin's last year or so before publishing his book is interesting but the pace is so slow and repeatedly gets bogged down in an attempt to stir up controversy over a perceived incompatibility of religious faith and scientific enquiry (exemplified in a scene where Huxley is portrayed as an awful man made to spout the crude opinions that sound suspiciously like those typical of the film's makers.) Added to this is a confusing and overly sentimental presentation of his means of handling the death of his favourite daughter.
The material in the book clearly weaves a complex and inspirational pattern of details that show us the influences on Darwin's ideas but this film misses the mark and is disappointing for that.
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