The film Creation is a surprising depiction of the intimate process of the tome "On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin - and how the book almost never saw the light of day.
The emergence of the book is viewed through the lens of the Darwin family. The film is an adaptation of Annie's Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution, a book by Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great grandson. The film is a partly biographical, partly fictionalized account, built carefully from real-life letters and documents of Charles Darwin. The story revolves and pivots around Charles' relationship with his eldest daughter, Annie, as he struggles to write "On the Origin of Species."
Through the shadows of his study, the pages that would become "On the Origin of Species" were kept hidden in a leather box. Motivated by a restless and inquisitive mind, Darwin found himself as a scientist and researcher to be unwittingly absorbed in an alchemy of fear, religious and family contradictions and illness. Darwin had come to epic conclusions about evolution, but lacked the strength and courage to pursue publication of his ideas.
The film reveals a grief-filled, life-changing moment of Darwin’s and how his relationship with the deceased was incredibly formative for him. Annie died at the age of 10, likely of tuberculosis. The film shows the power of this personal loss through Darwin's experiences of apparitions and appearances of Annie, which are truth-bearing for Charles. At the apex of the movie, Charles makes a grief-stricken pilgrimage to the hotel where Annie had died. The act of immersing himself in this location touchstone changes him radically. Annie now becomes his liberated muse to help Charles overcome his divided impulses and to cleave to his wife, children and work as a scientist - finally releasing "On the Origin of Species" for publication.
For those who think about the power of grief, Creation is a provocative movie for your consideration.
BBC film on DVD, streaming and download
Directed by Jon Amiel
Written by Jon Amiel, screen story John Collee, screenplay based on Randal Keynes book "Annie's Box"
Paul Bettany (Charles Darwin)
Jennifer Connelly (Emma Darwin)
Martha West (Anne Darwin)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Joseph Dalton Hooker)
Jeremy Northam (Reverend John Brodie-Innes)
Toby Jones (Thomas Henry Huxley)