‘A movie about Charles Darwin and evolution? Gee, no thanks, we’re Yanks!’

A BRITISH film about Charles Darwin has failed to secure a US distributor because the theory of evolution is considered too controversial for American audiences, according to a report this weekend in the Telegraph.

Paul Bethany plays Darwin

Paul Bettany plays Darwin

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and  premiered in the UK today. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

According to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution., an influential site that reviews films from a Christian perspective, describes Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounces him as:

A racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder.

His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to:

Atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as:

A silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying.

Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

That’s what we’re up against. In 2009. It’s amazing.  The film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it’s because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they’ve seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.

It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There’s still a great belief that He made the world in six days. It’s quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.

He added:

Charles Darwin is, I suppose, the hero of the film. But we tried to make the film in a very even-handed way. Darwin wasn’t saying ‘kill all religion’, he never said such a thing, but he is a totem for people.

Creation was developed by BBC Films and the UK Film Council, and stars Bettany’s real-life wife Jennifer Connelly as Darwin’s deeply religious wife, Emma. It is based on the book, Annie’s Box, by Darwin’s great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes, and portrays the naturalist as a family man tormented by the death in 1851 of Annie, his favourite child. She is played in the film by 10-year-old newcomer Martha West, the daughter of The Wire star Dominic West.

Early reviews have raved about the film. The Hollywood Reporter said:

It would be a great shame if those with religious convictions spurned the film out of hand as they will find it even-handed and wise.

Thomas, whose previous films include The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, said he hoped the reviews would help to secure a distributor. In the UK, special screenings have been set up for Christian groups.

38 responses to “‘A movie about Charles Darwin and evolution? Gee, no thanks, we’re Yanks!’”

  1. Tim Danaher says:

    “In the UK, special screenings have been set up for Christian groups.”

    One very simple question:


  2. Angela_K says:

    So these xtians can keep each other in check, and also not allow each other to draw their own conclusions that evolution is a fact. Have to keep the mythology going don't they?

  3. tony e says:

    Let's take the bibles view. We all decended from Adam and Eve. If that is fact then why are they so many variations on Homo S? The simple fact is that we evolved to match our enviroments just blows their weak arguments out the water. Anybody able to come up with a witty statement along the lines of proving the only people not to evolve are christians?

  4. I saw Eugenie Scott last week at Dragon*Con, and she said that the producers were hoping to get a US distributor after via the film festival circuit.


  5. John Klasen says:

    A silly theory that has not been proven in a century???? You can't get any sillier than religion and they have had thousands of years to come up with proof and so far ziltch.

  6. Har Davids says:

    Stupid is as stupid does! And this country put a man on the moon, is a mass-producer of the most mind-less and aggressive films and the number one in the producing and selling of weapons?

  7. Neuseline says:

    For once words fail me.

  8. mike says:

    "he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published"

    Well this is America, you have to give them a chance.

    Inb4 some Yank tries to sarcastically agree with me – you lot just can't do it properly, so don't bother.

  9. D.S. says:

    Ok, so where's the proof that this is why it was refused?

    The fact is, historical dramas just don't pull in the numbers. And as the movie industry is a very closed system in the states, the chances of the film being picked up were even less.

    When it sounds like a made for TV/Cable movie, it's not going to play well in the theater.

    And this movie, sounds like a HBO or Discovery Channel original.

  10. J. Ray says:

    Too many (christian) Yankee's here in the US to stop free thinkers from getting their message or views out.

  11. No Brit says:

    Everybody knows The Americans are another species the british HATE with an unbridled passion.

    The british hate that The Americans are another species, so they're trying to make them look like… get this… religious people. HAHAHAHA The brits are such poor losers. They invented Afrocentrism to fool the Africans into building their Israel, but that didn't work. And they NEVER fooled The Americans from Day 0. Columbus couldn't even do that.

    The british are such dumb and poor religious losers and liars.

  12. Rocketboy says:

    And to add more… just like Brokeback Mountian, Religulous, Milk, and others in recent times didn't find distributors because the fundies didn't like it, right?

  13. valdemar says:

    Well, maybe the film isn't very exciting, as it apparently sticks to historical facts, which we all know Americans traditionally have trouble with ('Cough Enigma').. What Americans have no problem with is violence – lots of it, and really loud, dumbass stuff.

    So perhaps they should have added a bit where Darwin is involved in a thrilling car chase with Alfred Russel Wallace, as they both try to be first to reach the Royal Society with their revolutionary theories. Suddenly, the young, sexy, lycra-clad Queen Victoria appears in a steam powered blimp and bombs Wallace's Victorian clockwork Lexus, leaving Darwin free to present his views to the astounded world. 'Brilliant, m'boy!' says the 112-year-old Duke of Wellington. 'Himmel! My moustache bristles with amazement!' observes 14-year-old Prussian prodigy Fritz Nietzsche.

    But Wallace – nothing daunted, though now hideously deformed and boasting a prosthetic arm with Gatling gun inside – threatens to blow up the new Kew Gardens Mall with anti-gunpowder unless Darwin meets him in single combat atop the 1,000 foot high cast-iron pylon that is the Albert Memorial in central London, England…

    It virtually writes itself, and I'm sure it would play well in Peoria.

  14. Stoneyground says:

    I must say that it is a honour to be insulted by someone who is incapable of expressing a single coherent thought.

  15. barriejohn says:

    I thought it was just me that couldn't make out a word of what he was trying to say there, Stoneyground!

  16. Angela_K says:

    There are some intelligent people in the USA , most are atheists and sadly in the minority; you seem to be with the majority who have god disease.

  17. barriejohn says:

    I thought it was just me who couldn't make out a word of what he was trying to say there, Stoneyground!

  18. barriejohn says:

    You may be right there for all we know, but the same producer WAS responsible for The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence!

  19. barriejohn says:

    You're spot-on about American films, Har Davids, even though I don't object to violence per se (and they have produced some excellent anti-war films). However, my list of "must-see" films would contain mostly British productions, and that not out of any insularity on my part. I mean, how could you even attempt to improve on the original version of The Ladykillers – and then produce such a piss-poor version of the film for your pains?

  20. chrsbol says:

    "Lycra clad Queen Victoria"
    I'm double-clicking my mouse here valdemar at the very thought!

  21. chrsbol says:

    Well you've got me there No Brit I haven't a frigging clue what you're talking about. Who were the Americans there at Day 0? Whatever that means?

  22. barriejohn says:

    Our comments here were replies to No Brit (above), but a whole host of others now suddenly intervene! One day a comment from Thomas Edison is going to pop up from nowhere on this site and have us all wondering to which post he was actually referring!!

  23. Buffy says:

    God likes variety.

    Or so it says in Ken Ham's "Creation Museum".

  24. Buffy says:

    Maybe they could repackage it as a vapid romantic comedy. Those seem to go over well here. Sadly.

  25. barriejohn says:

    Yes – like Titanic and Pearl Harbor: though not (intentionally) comedies, two of the worst films ever made, in anyone's book (and most expensive)!

  26. remigius says:

    Since Nob Wit has mentioned fooling Africans into building our Israel, whatever the fuck that means, I guess 'Day o' must be a reference to the first verse of The Banana Boat Song!

    Or maybe not. Perhaps he/she/it would care to explain once they get their medication sorted out.

  27. remigius says:

    If you want a film where Charles Darwin is an action hero I would suggest Tarsem Singh's 'The Fall'.

    The bit where they escape from Butterfly Island, thanks to Darwin's commandeering a passing elephant, and head of in pursuit of Governor Odious is sheer brilliance.

    Oh, and Wallace is a monkey! Apparently.

  28. remigius says:

    Here's the obligatory link…

    It is a brilliant film on so many levels. Certainly in my top 10.

  29. barriejohn says:

    She was, reportedly, a nymphomaniac!

  30. barriejohn says:

    I thought he was talking about even Columbo being fooled there for one minute, but I see that he's referring to Columbus (Christopher, I presume). I have no idea what he is talking about – does HE?

  31. remigius says:

    You're not wrong there barriejohn. I saw a documentary about her once. Even Billy Connolly 's had a go!

  32. remigius says:

    I haven't seen Pearl Harbor but my friend Yushi Yamaguchi thinks it's great!

  33. remigius says:

    I just think it's a miracle that none of the bombs hit Brownsea Island!

  34. valdemar says:

    Well, I suppose No Brit is an excellent illustration of why the US of A is a nation that can no longer put a man on the Moon.

  35. barriejohn says:

    Ooh! Aye! Indeeed!!

  36. chrsbol says:

    Very funny.

  37. Rozi says:

    "A silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying."

    Isn't that creationism?
    Oh yes, I went there (so did everyone else…)

  38. Your_God_Gaz says:

    America is stupid. Religion is stupid. Put the two together and you get an ignorant,bigoted moron who thinks that being a slave to an imaginary heavenly dictator is the highest human achievement. Oh, yeah- did I say Americans are stupid?