Pharyngula

Oh, crap.

You may have heard that there is a new movie about Darwin in the works, Creation, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. We have a synopsis now, and it isn’t good news.

The Darwin we meet in CREATION is a young, vibrant father, husband and friend whose mental and physical health gradually buckles under the weight of guilt and grief for a lost child. Ultimately it is the ghost of Annie, his adored 10 year-old daughter who leads him out of darkness and helps him reconnect with his wife and family. Only then is he able to create the book that changed the world.

They’ve got to be kidding. I’m assuming it is only a metaphorical ghost, not a real one, but given the dreadful melodramatic botch of a story there, I can’t even be sure of that.

Comments

  1. #1 Ben
    February 18, 2009

    At least Ebert will probably slam the ghost part of it.

  2. #2 catgirl
    February 18, 2009

    I don’t understand why we need a movie about Darwin’s personal life. It’s not really relevant to his scientific work. We don’t need movies about Neils Bohr or Gregor Mendel to understand atomic theory or inheritance patterns. We should worry less about Darwin himself and more about his actual work.

  3. #3 Jon H
    February 18, 2009

    That’s what you get when Chopra-ridden Hollywood tries to do a story about science.

  4. #4 Craig
    February 18, 2009

    Hey PZ, Pharyngulites,

    The NODAKS need your help. Yesterday, the ND legislature passed a bill that would define life beginning at conception–the moment an egg is fertilized. As one lawmaker put it “if it has one living human cell it is a person.”

    http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/231419/

    Please lend your considerable knowledge and proactive support to this pressing issue. Not all of us want to be sucked into the dark ages.

    Thanks–I don’t mean to spam, but I really think you guys can help!

  5. #5 Andyo
    February 18, 2009

    I would have thought Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly were above Hallmark TV movies. What is this, their careers in in the 90’s?

    Though now with Tarantino-favorite Tim Roth working for network TV, who knows.

  6. #6 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 18, 2009

    meh

  7. #7 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Well, what do you expect from Hollywood. These guys could fuck up a two-car funeral. I used to live in Hell A and had the opportunity to talk to script writers. Deep down, they are shallow cowards afraid to challenge their superiors or their audiences. I’m sure they took one look at Darwin’s life and felt they had to dumb it down the the level of the average ignorant food tube. A pity, as there was a lot of real drama in the life of Darwin.

  8. #8 Holbach
    February 18, 2009

    Darwin; forgive us.

  9. #9 Steve_C
    February 18, 2009

    I think it’s gotta be metaphorical. I have no issues with Jennifer Connelly in any love story… that it’s in Darwin’s story is even better.

  10. #10 blueelm
    February 18, 2009

    Well at least they didn’t have him portrayed as schizophrenic….

  11. #11 Kevin
    February 18, 2009

    Life begins at conception, eh? Tell that to the sperm and the ovum. For the sake of argument, we’ll say life begins at conception. Does that mean that all women who spontaneously abort should be tried for negligent homicide?

  12. #12 JWC
    February 18, 2009

    A Beautiful Theory: The Charles Darwin Story. Anyhoo, it might be good, but there’ll be plenty of creative license I’m sure. The ghost thing is awful if it turns out that way.

  13. #13 Terry Shull
    February 18, 2009

    http://www.trekunited.com/community/index.php?autocom=blog&blogid=65&showentry=580

    I blamed Ken Lay for the lack of roles for actors and they’re willingness to take anything that might come their way. Yeah – it’s a stretch, but the data is still coming in.

    The reliance on cliche and supernatural storylines is just part and parcel of what will sell and Hollywood is now BOUND by law to try to sell instead of create. ?

  14. #14 24fps
    February 18, 2009

    Well, melodrama sells… Sometimes it’s dreck, but it’s not always a bad vehicle to inform about other, more important things.

  15. #15 Kobra
    February 18, 2009

    That’s just downright disrespectful to Darwin’s family. Unlike the disrespect we Pharynguloids commit, this is targeted against a person rather than a highly criticizable idea.

  16. #16 Theodore
    February 18, 2009

    Any story that enlightens people to the power of the Theory of Evolution is good.

    So what if the back drop is his family or a ghost or his struggle with religion. It’s a movie, not a documentary. All the emotional stuff will give people a reason to watch and be engaged.

  17. #17 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Craig, regarding the troglodytes in the ND legislature. Maybe the way to proceed is to try to amend the bill to make it even stricter–so that it covers “spilling of seed” as well. Good Lord, look at how many of the little buggers die as a result of that. Maybe even cover menstruation.

    I can see it now: “Ma’am, step away from the feminine hygeine products…”

    This could make it fun. I mean if a legislator opposes this extension of rights to unborn sperm cells, what can we infer about his, uh, habits?

  18. #18 Moderately Unbalanced Squid
    February 18, 2009

    The NODAKS need your help. Yesterday, the ND legislature passed a bill that would define life beginning at conception–the moment an egg is fertilized. As one lawmaker put it “if it has one living human cell it is a person.”

    Really? So there are cell cultures out there that have to be given the right to vote?

    And do they have the right to apply for welfare payments? Disability?

    The possibilities are endless…

  19. #19 JD Cherry
    February 18, 2009

    Let’s not get carried away. I’m pretty certain that the ghost is metaphorical. Darwin’s spirit was crushed by the death of Annie – it was the last blow to his religious convictions. Although I haven’t read it, isn’t the Keynes book that the movie is based on called “Annie’s Box”? It’ll have something to do with a box of her possessions, and I’m sure that the film will have more to do with memories than spectres.

  20. #20 Andyo
    February 18, 2009

    Wait a minute… so the cute little girl dies? Way to spoil the movie. SPOILER ALERTS PLEASE!

    Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, part heart-wrenching love story CREATION is the story of Charles Darwin [...]

    Now that’s some words I never thought I’d see put together in a sentence, especially in that particular order.

  21. #21 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Oh, hey, imagine the possibilities if you run an IVF clinic in North Dakota. All those frozen embryos–you can claim them as dependents on your state income tax!

  22. #22 JackH
    February 18, 2009

    only 1 in 2 children in darwin’s day ever reached adulthood. if they all ‘buckled’ after the death of a child many fewer of us would even be here!

  23. #23 Todd Hollywood
    February 18, 2009

    “I used to live in Hell A and had the opportunity to talk to script writers. Deep down, they are shallow cowards afraid to challenge their superiors or their audiences.”

    Screenwriters in the film industry are the bottom rung on the ladder. While some are hacks, of course, I’m sure that most would love to provide more challenging material. But they are at the whims of the market and at the mercy of the producers and executives who sign the checks.

    To say that they are shallow cowards is bullshit. Why should they make a pointless stand and endanger their financial future? To make YOU feel better? Please. If you want smarter, more challenging pictures produced, then buy tickets and see every smart, challenging film that comes out.

  24. #24 24fps
    February 18, 2009

    @Andyo – You have to use that sort of language for log lines and synopses in this business, otherwise the distributors won’t give you any money and there is no film. It’s all part of the game.

  25. #25 Theodore
    February 18, 2009

    #20 Re: “part psychological thriller”

    Maybe the finches attack Darwin ala The Birds.

  26. #26 Jason R
    February 18, 2009

    Ug. What a crappy movie concept. Why in the world would someone come up with a concept like that. Darwin + ghosts is just silly.

  27. #27 Glen Davidson
    February 18, 2009

    What’s ironic is that her death may have assisted the writing of the book by freeing him of religion. Not that he needed to be godless to understand evolution, only that he had to be free from religious repressions to lose his inhibitions against writing the book.

    I don’t know that for sure, but it seems more close to Darwin’s biography than any “metaphorical ghost” helping him to write his book.

    I will say that I think the personal is very important to many stories of science. Certainly the loss of his daughter affected his world view, likely his science (the warm pond as the origin of life, rather than god breathing life, for instance).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  28. #28 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Todd Hollywood says, “Please. If you want smarter, more challenging pictures produced, then buy tickets and see every smart, challenging film that comes out.”

    I went one better. I don’t go see anything Hollywood produces now.

  29. #29 Richard Eis
    February 18, 2009

    Well, let’s wait for some kind of clip. Although anything mentioning Darwin but called “creation” is only going to cause problems for itself.

  30. #30 JD
    February 18, 2009

    It’s a “family values” kinda movie.

  31. #31 David Harper
    February 18, 2009

    Ray @#17:

    Maybe the way to proceed is to try to amend the bill to make it even stricter–so that it covers “spilling of seed” as well. Good Lord, look at how many of the little buggers die as a result of that.

    I can just picture the police blotter in Podunk, ND:

    Tyler Snodworth, 16, was arrested by sheriff’s deputies Sunday evening on three counts of first-degree masturbation. Sheriff Smith said that several well-thumbed copies of Playboy were found in Snodworth’s bedroom, proving intent to commit a felony. A number of Kleenexes were also taken away for forensic examination.

  32. #32 Twin-Skies
    February 18, 2009

    I haven’t seen such a crappy bastardization of a historical figure in film since hearing about Fighter in the Wind.

  33. #33 Menyambal
    February 18, 2009

    It says “Part ghost story,” which sounds like there is going to be an actual ghost woo-ing around, and “part psychological thriller” which may mean the ghost is in his head, implying the poor man is crazy. The “part heart-wrenching love story” also puts me off considerably.

    Calling the movie CREATION just sounds wrong. It’s also a bit grandiose to say “the single most explosive idea in history”, as there have been other shockers. Saying Origin of Species is still controversial sounds odd, but they do say it is “great”. Then they say that it “depicts nature as a battleground”, which is not the case.

    To me, it sounds like they are pimping a bad movie. I’m probably not going to go see it, based on what I see today, as it it either an insult to a man I respect, or a needless expose of a life that really has no bearing on the reality of the science of evolution. I’m thinking that the fundamentalists are likely to stay away, unless the movie “proves” that Darwin was crazy wrong. So who is it being made for?

  34. #34 Moggie
    February 18, 2009

    Who is playing Lady Hope?

  35. #35 tubi
    February 18, 2009

    As long as they don’t include his “deathbed confession” it might be OK.

  36. #36 SamB
    February 18, 2009

    I reckon we should all go and see it and point out, loudly, every single historical inaccuracy. It’ll be fun!

  37. #37 Andyo
    February 18, 2009

    Todd Hollywood or 24p:

    Are you in the industry? Can you give me a job? I know photography, live in LA, and I heard there’s an opening for the latest Terminator movie.

  38. #38 shonny
    February 18, 2009

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    After the delightful semi-documentary series about the journey of the Beagle some years back, please BBC, – don’t go and fuck it all up!!! Or have you already?
    Or is this something to cater for an American audience, i.e. made to please pin-heads (apologies to the small minority of Americans who do not fall in the p-h category), so they have to add some shit like spielberg does to trivialise even the best story?
    Crap!

  39. #39 Joshu
    February 18, 2009

    To be honest, I think this could actually enhance the story a bit, but only if- and this is a big if- they do it correctly. Like PZ said, hopefully it’s a metaphorical ghost, along the lines of Gerard Butler’s continued presence in PS I Love You long after his character’s death (only much more subtle, I hope). The daughter’s “ghost” should hopefully be portrayed as an obvious “coping mechanism” or somesuch that allows Darwin to come to terms with it, as well as helping him lose his religiosity as suggested by Glen D.

    tl;dr It could either be a sparingly-used, effective visual metaphor that helps drive the plot…. or it’ll crash the film. Paul Bettany’s inclusion is promising, at least.

  40. #40 Andyo
    February 18, 2009

    Oh yeah, and people I admire are Takeshi Kitano, Woody Allen, Julio Medem and of course, the Pope.

  41. #41 Matt Heath
    February 18, 2009

    @Catgirl: Well Darwin did have a pretty interesting life. If it’s not a literal ghost I’ll definitely watch it. Actually the BBC should make a big multi-generational costume epic about the Wedgwood-Darwin clan. That would be win.

  42. #42 Desert Son
    February 18, 2009

    I, for one, hope the film will also delve into Darwin’s partnering up with a plucky, uneducated-but-earnest-and-streetwise pushcart vendor to fight crime outside the limitations of the good-intentioned-but-ultimately-ineffectual law!

    With explosions!

    On a more serious note, I long ago stopped looking to Hollywood to attend with significant accuracy to history. It does, on occasion. But it’s hard, ultimately, to capture history in roughly 2 hours, with enough to keep a large portion of audiences riveted.

    Sure, many readers here would probably love a truly dedicated, nuanced, investigative treatment of many things (like, say, the Battle of Thermopylae, as just one example), but Hollywood is, among other things, a business, and they have a bottom line. Spartans as freedom-loving patriots standing up for liberty is laughable in the context of their existence as the largest slave-holding nation in the ancient Hellenic region. Sure makes a helluva money-making spectacle, though.

    My hope is that it spurs just a few more people to go read some real books about the Darwin, including his own. That would be a victory, I think.

    I fully and freely acknowledge my own limitations in critical, objective judgment when it comes to observations related to Jennifer Connelley, my faculties becoming clouded when I am rendered stun-gun-stupid ’cause teh_hotness got in my eyes.

    No kings,

    Robert

  43. #43 www.10ch.org
    February 18, 2009

    What? Darwin only? Poor Wallace. Well, it is not like the movie really has that much to do with Darwin in the first place, since it is about “reconnecting with wife and family…”

  44. #44 cedgray
    February 18, 2009

    You should read this interview with Bettany. It’s not going to be that bad, I don’t think, having seen some of the clips.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/feb/12/charles-darwin-rutherford

  45. #45 Andyo
    February 18, 2009

    Posted by: Desert Son | February 18, 2009 11:18 AM

    I, for one, hope the film will also delve into Darwin’s partnering up with a plucky, uneducated-but-earnest-and-streetwise pushcart vendor to fight crime outside the limitations of the good-intentioned-but-ultimately-ineffectual law!

    Played by Will Smith!

    With explosions!

    Directed by Michael Bay!

    Now we got something!

  46. #46 devout_heathen
    February 18, 2009

    I dunno… I watched an interview with Paul Bettany a few days ago and I’m quietly optimistic. He is an atheist – and several of the filmmakers were either atheist or agnostic – so I doubt this will turn out to be another ‘Expelled’.

    Take a look a this interview in the Guardian, in which Bettany intimates that Darwin turned to science for comfort after his child died:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/feb/12/charles-darwin-rutherford

  47. #47 Desert Son
    February 18, 2009

    Not sure why I referenced “the Darwin.” Apologies. It’s been a long morning, and it’s not even 11 a.m. yet.

    Off to hunt/gather more coffee.

    No kings,

    Robert

  48. #48 Glen Davidson
    February 18, 2009

    Will the movie cover Darwin’s dedicated effort to twist the evidence in order to deny design, and thus to destroy religion forever? ‘Cause I really think that’s been missing in all extensive biographical treatments of Darwin up to this time.

    Oh, and surely Darwin knew that he was a forerunner of the Nazis, though not by name. How did he plan the Holocaust?

    I aver they need to consult with Kevin Miller and Walt Ruloff in order to tell Darwin’s story completely.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  49. #49 Carl Buell
    February 18, 2009

    I heard an interview with Paul Bettany (who IS an atheist)and there is no “ghost” in the film, only the memory of his beloved little girl who died. From what Bettany said, the movie is not as much about the science, as it is about how Darwin and his wife Emma dealt with the loss of Annie in different ways. Sorry people, but it’s a love story of living with and adjusting to tragedy.

  50. #50 RamblinDude
    February 18, 2009

    Well, com?on guys, it?s a period piece, and biographical, and it?s about evolution! You got no bank robberies, no helicopters, no aliens, no car chases . . . that leaves ghosts. It practically writes itself. Duh.

    I predict there will be at least one explosion, though. They had nitroglycerin back in 1847.

  51. #51 Masks of Eris
    February 18, 2009

    Told in a collage of scenes from the past and present, laced with stories of exotic animals and the dark dreams of a troubled mind CREATION is a film that will provoke, entertain and ultimately deeply move you.

    Provoke, sure. Entertain, maybe. Deeply move… the people who write this stuff should look in a mirror. And then wonder whether they’re wearing pants over a wrong end of their bodies. (Isn’t it nice when the makers know already how you’ll feel about the film?)

  52. #52 RamblinDude
    February 18, 2009

    Sorry people, but it’s a love story of living with and adjusting to tragedy.

    No explosions?

  53. #53 Andyo
    February 18, 2009

    You guys are probably right. In all seriousness, I don’t see any non-insane (a.k.a. “sane”) English person portraying Darwin as a dumbass ghost whisperer. Maybe that’s how they have to sell the movie for us idiot Americans.

  54. #54 J-Dog
    February 18, 2009

    But are there large dance scenes? And who plays his comedic side-kick?

  55. #55 Minster
    February 18, 2009

    RE: CREATION THE MOVIE – for a blog for those interested in science a lotta folks here are coming to a lot of completely subjective conclusions on a movie which isn’t even finished yet. Plus it’s not a Hollywood movie, it’s a British production. It’s based on a book by Darwin’s great-great-grandson who i think would know a lot more about the man than most here. Ultimately if it gets more people into Darwin and Evolutionary Theory by dramatizing a few aspects of his life then more people will stop thinking of scientists as nerds….

  56. #56 Eric the half-bee
    February 18, 2009

    “Why not,” you said, “use the soap opera as a model for communicating about evolution?”

    Well, be careful what you wish for.

  57. #57 spence-bob
    February 18, 2009

    Or is this something to cater for an American audience, i.e. made to please pin-heads (apologies to the small minority of Americans who do not fall in the p-h category),

    Seriously, fuck you and your European snobbery. It’s hardly a “tiny minority” – it’s more like the largest plurality doesn’t give much of a shit about anything beyond trying to meet the immediate challenges of their own lives. It’s true we’re not a nation of geniuses over here, but I’ve been to Britain and you guys aren’t a whole hell of a lot better in the aggregate.

  58. #58 Desert Son
    February 18, 2009

    Minster at #55:

    Ultimately if it gets more people into Darwin and Evolutionary Theory by dramatizing a few aspects of his life then more people will stop thinking of scientists as nerds….

    Good point, although personally I don’t look askance at the label “nerd,” though many may.

    If nothing else, I hope the film will help counter much of the bad (and misinformed) press that Darwin continues to receive in the modern day from those who continue to declare allegiance to supernatural explanations for much of life.

    No kings,

    Robert

  59. #59 Becca Stareyes
    February 18, 2009

    @ Catgirl and others…

    I’d say that any movie showing scientists as something other than Nutty Professors or Mad Scientists or Cynical House-esque Bastards or any other Capital Letter Trope are good things, because they make the audience realize that scientists are mostly normal people who happen to be rather bright and curious. Which helps with the whole getting people feeling comfortable with science if they realize that the people who make the discoveries and inventions are not faceless monsters or doing things like publishing uncomfortable theories for shits and giggles. It’s not a logical thing, and it’s not perfect, but it couldn’t hurt. And it might even be entertaining.

  60. #60 sw
    February 18, 2009

    yep, needs more ‘Action’, especially for the movie trailer:

    “THEY called his work blasphemy”
    “THEY called him amoral”
    “THEY said his theory was ‘just a theory'”
    “THEY went too far! Now Chuck Darwin is fighting back…with his fists”


    PUNCH! KICK! WHACK! “How’s that for a diversity of PAIN!!!”

    “You’re not even in the same species as me!!”
    “Survive this!” “Guess you won’t be passing on your traits to offspring anymore!”

  61. #61 sw
    February 18, 2009

    They should add “Action” to that movie description, and really make it awesome:

    “they called his work blasphemy”
    “they called him amoral”
    “they said his theory was ‘just a theory'”
    “they went too far! Now Chuck Darwin is fighting back…with his fists”

    Darwin comes on screen, wearing a bowler, big white beard, no shirt, and rippling muscles!
    The fundies are protesting near his lab

    PUNCH! KICK! WHACK! “How’s that for a diversity of PAIN!!!”
    A spin and flying drop kick onto the neck of a priest
    “You’re not even in the same species as me!!”
    “Survive this!” kick to the crotch “Guess you won’t be passing on your traits to offspring anymore!”

  62. #62 Desert Son
    February 18, 2009

    sw at #60:

    “Survive this!”

    Now I want this t-shirt.

    No kings,

    Robert

  63. #63 Adam Rutherford
    February 18, 2009

    Relax guys, Randal Keynes, CD’s great great grandson and grand protector of all things Darwin was fully supportive of the script, which was based on his outstanding book Annie’s Box. It’s a film ferchrissake. Does it matter if they use a dramatic metaphor to drive the story?
    Self-promotion corner, but I interviewed Paul Bettany about it, and he knows his stuff, and said all the right things as far as I’m concerned.

  64. #64 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    “This is blasphemy! This is madness!”
    “Madness…? THIS! IS! EVOLUTION!

  65. #65 cedgray
    February 18, 2009

    Thanks Adam. We’ve linked to your article in the Guardian, but obviously a lot of people here feel burned by Expelled, and so go a little nuts at any speculation of a film about Darwin that doesn’t do exactly what they want, i.e. bash Christianity and/or creationism and dance on its grave.

    Darwin’s life was actually pretty interesting, and it’s worth taking any opportunity to examine the conditions under which such a huge idea came to be forged, whether it tickles our dramatic taste-buds or not. He’s human, after all, unlike Ben Stein.

  66. #66 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    Ultimately if it gets more people into Darwin and Evolutionary Theory by dramatizing a few aspects of his life then more people will stop thinking of scientists as nerds….

    I doubt it. Every time we display human tendencies rather than those of Vulcan-like automatons some jerk shows up and complains “for a blog for those interested in science….”

  67. #67 Minster
    February 18, 2009

    @ Desert Son + Becca Stareyes
    Totally agree, I think this could be a excellent movie to open up the debate, get those on the fence creationists to think maybe they (like Darwin at the time) should question their church / religion, surely it can only be a good thing. Also i think we are reading too much into the synopsis on the website – in the Paul bettany interview he says it’s flashbacks not ghosts that Annie Darwin appears in. I say wait to see the Movie if it stinks we’ll all know soon enough.

  68. #68 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Minister #55, I’d say it’s cynicism about the “entertainment” industry that’s born of experience. Did you see “A Beautiful Mind”? Could you tell me based on that what John Nash even studied? There seems to be a prejudice in this industry that the science doesn’t matter and that people are too stupid to understand it in any case. Well, science is about truth, and the truth matters to me, so that’s why I quit going to movies.

  69. #69 Barklikeadog
    February 18, 2009

    I was under the impression that Darwin suffered from Chagas ? Disease acquired while in South America and that was his real reason for his health decline. The speculation is pretty accurate for that disease considering the amount of time from his visit and the onset of symptoms. There are some nasty bugs living there after all. I doubt his fatigue and other symptoms were caused by mourning the loss of his daughter.

  70. #70 crf
    February 18, 2009

    Pop-psychology and personal stories and the only way we will ever understand anything about the world.

    Science be damned!

  71. #71 Adam Rutherford
    February 18, 2009

    @Ray Ladbury: that’s awesome man, you stopped going to the movies cos they’re not true? Did you stop reading novels too? What about jokes? They’re not true either.

    I think this film could be a real cause for celebration for people like us. The fact that Keynes is involved and credited as a writer does suggest that it is credible, and Bettany has done his work on Darwin, and the director is a serious guy. Definitley reserve final judgement till the film is out, but how about a little grassroots support? The movies have the power to change people’s perceptions when it’s done right.

  72. #72 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Adam Rutherford, My criteria for movies is that I prefer not to see more than 3 or 4 laws of physics violated in the first 10 minutes. It’s one thing if it’s something like “Harry Potter,” which makes no pretense of being about the real world. It is quite anotehr thing if it is about a historical figure with whom I am familiar. The whole entertainment industry is rotten to the core. The compromises one has to make to get a movie made would make a whore blush. Having seen that side of it, I’ll take books. That OK with you?

  73. #73 Minster
    February 18, 2009

    @ Ray Ladbury
    I did see “A Beautiful Mind” my reaction after seeing the film was to seek more information around John Nash the man as I know the math but didn’t the man or his condition. I don’t think either movie claims to be about anything other than the personal story behind two incredible men (Darwin & Nash), both well known for their achievements, they are not meant to be about the science. If we all are cynics then we would never strive to uncover the truth. I’ve no idea if CREATION is any good but I’m open minded enough to accept that it at least COULD be, rather than dismiss it out of hand.

  74. #74 deep
    February 18, 2009

    First it’s ghost, then in the future religious fanatics who can no longer deny the existence of evolution will claim “divine interference”. God sent the angel ghost of his dead daughter to Darwin to revel to him the theory to save peoples lives! I can see the cheap books and shitty sermons already.

  75. #75 Jim Harrison
    February 18, 2009

    Enough with Charles for the time being. I want to see a movie about Erasmus Darwin and his adventures. Granddad was a very fun guy; and his social circle, who called themselves the Lunar Men, included a host of wonderful and important characters including Josiah Wedgewood, Joseph Priestly, and James Watt and plenty of interesting women,too–Erasmus definitely had an eye for the ladies.

  76. #76 cedgray
    February 18, 2009

    Yes, I can see that no publicly-accessible programme or film about science or the people behind it – those complex, emotional humans with their real lives – can ever be made, so we should all give up trying to reach the public using anything other than scientific diagrams and equations. And the less we can present the scientists themselves in a humanising light that might make people understand their creative urges and the cultural environment in which those ideas percolated, the better.

    Instead, I think it’s probably best that we whine about it at all times, while doing nothing ourselves, and if possible pre-judge every mention of a film involving a scientist and bad-mouth it on a universally-consulted blog before having taken the time to learn a bit about its nature ourselves using a search engine.

    That’s the way forward for science communication. Yessir.

  77. #77 Pierce R. Butler
    February 18, 2009

    Kobra @ # 15: Unlike the disrespect we Pharynguloids commit, this is targeted against a person…

    (ahem!) Please go to the search box in the upper-left corner and type in “Hovind”, or “Dembski”, or “Bachmann”, or “Comfort”, or “O’Leary”, or “Fafarman”, or “Wells”, or “Palin”, or “Ham”, or “Ratzinger”, or “Behe”, or “Bush”, or …

    It’s a jungle in here!

  78. #78 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    Minister, my objection of “A Beautiful Mind” was that they pretty much screwed the pooch with regard to anything that was factual. They were wrong in their depiction of mental illness. They were wrong about every fact of John Nash’s life. They didn’t even try to describe his research. Now, all of these facts are interesting. In fact, the most interesting thing about Nash is the fact that pretty much by force of will, he brought himself back from Schizophrenia! Psychologists would have us believe that isn’t even possible! Hollywood left that, along with anything else that might challenge, out of the eviscerated shell that was “A Beautiful Mind”.
    If they’re going to make it a frigging ghost story, why not feature a cameo from Jar-Jar Binks and make the burlesque complete.

  79. #79 Dave Godfrey
    February 18, 2009

    Barklikadog:-

    Darwin probably did suffer from Chagas’ Disease (or something similar), but I think its safe to say that a fair proportion of his problems were psychosomatic. The death of his daughter wouldn’t have helped matters- but she died on a visit to one of his doctors.

    Alan Rutherford:-

    You mean Annie doesn’t turn into Stay Puffd, demolish Westminster Abbey, and Huxley, Darwin, Hooker and Lyell don’t team up to form the 19th century Ghostbusters? Awww!

    Seriously though everything I’ve seen leads me to believe this is going to be like the dramatised portions of the documentary Channel 4 made of “Annie’s Box” a few years back. Nothing to worry about unless you really wanted to see backgammon on the big screen.

  80. #80 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    cedgray, Maybe you haven’t read the post, or maybe I just haven’t read about the role of the frigging supernatural in Darwin’s life. So, maybe you can tell me where he ever talked about ghosts, and souls and maybe consulted a Ouiji board. Is is really too much to ask that on those rare occasions that artsy-fartsy types do venture into the scientific realm that they at least make an attempt to get the scientific and biographical details right?

  81. #81 Charles Wade
    February 18, 2009

    The director Jon Amiel gave a pretty good interview online with FastCompany. I do not believe we have to worry about him getting details wrong about Darwin. Check it out, http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/sara-d-anderson/fast-slice/divergent-darwin

  82. #82 PGPWNIT
    February 18, 2009

    People will not buy tickets to watch a movie about science. They can see that stuff on tv documentaries. It’s the human condition that interests us (speaking as a people, not we here on this site).

  83. #83 Peter Mc
    February 18, 2009

    “Maybe the finches attack Darwin ala The Birds.”

    Nah Theodore, the mockingbirds take the piss out of him.

  84. #84 pray11342
    February 18, 2009

    “dark dreams of a troubled mind”?

    jesus h christ on a pogo stick!

    This piece of crap deserves to be ridiculed by science and reason at least as much as Ben Stein’s epic of stupidity “No Intelligence Allowed”

  85. #85 Dave Godfrey
    February 18, 2009

    Darwin probably did suffer from Chagas’ Disease (or something similar), but I think its safe to say that a fair proportion of his problems were psychosomatic. The death of his daughter wouldn’t have helped matters- but she died on a visit to one of his doctors….

    …he had had symptoms for a very long time before Annie died, and perhaps before she was born (I don’t recall the exact details).

    I shall not fear preview. Preview is my friend.

  86. #86 James F
    February 18, 2009

    Well, we already had Darwin-as-action-hero in The Fall, no?

  87. #87 sam
    February 18, 2009

    ad hom much?

  88. #88 Rose
    February 18, 2009

    Hey, at least they’re going in the right direction.

  89. #89 Qwerty
    February 18, 2009

    Personally, I’d like to see Darwin’s ghost pop Ben Stein in the nose!

    Yes, this movie will probably have Annie’s ghost. Movies are a visual medium which is why we had to see the “voices” John Nash heard as people in “A Beautiful Mind.”

    I heard he was also gay, but you wouldn’t get that fact watching the movie.

  90. #90 mandrake
    February 18, 2009

    Spartans as freedom-loving patriots standing up for liberty is laughable in the context of their existence as the largest slave-holding nation in the ancient Hellenic region.

    slave-owning freedom-loving patriots… reminds me of something, can’t put my finger on it.

    (Yes, I *know* the US was NOT the largest slave-holding nation.)

  91. #91 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    Lighten the hell up, people. Those of you who know the Expelled saga know what a fiasco that turned out to be (and how it was promoted in the beginning), so I think you can understand why we might be a little trepidatious with regard to a film about Chuckie D called Creation. Further, if you’ve ever seen a movie, you know they do like to play fast and loose with the facts in favour of drama, so you can pull the sticks out of your asses about us being skeptical of that too. Remember: some of us do actually associate with the not-so-scientifically minded who get all kinds of bizarre ideas (fed by the creationists and the conspiracy theorists) when they see pigeons croaking en masse because the magnetic pole flipped in The Core, and it pisses us off. And no, there’s nothing wrong with portraying scientists as humans. On the other hand, Expelled did just that with Darwin–as the father of fucking Nazism!

    All that said, the interview by Adam Rutherford with Paul Bettany is reassuring, and the movie is looking better and better. Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see.

  92. #92 Greg B
    February 18, 2009

    The movie ends with a deathbed recant.

  93. #93 Minster
    February 18, 2009

    Ray, I think we are all concentrating on the words “part ghost-story” too much, from the interview of Paul Bettany playing Darwin and the Director’s interview it sounds like there are no ‘ghosts’, probably something some ‘smart’ marketing moron added for the site, to get the ‘kids’ in. I’m not defending “A Beautiful Mind” as a film, I’m merely saying I wasn’t aware of Nash’s schizophrenia and the film sparked an interest. Hopefully this film can do the same for Darwin and introduce him to a new audience as the fascinating man he was.

  94. #94 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    I think that what pisses me of the most is that the facts ARE interesting. They ARE dramatic. They ARE what bring the characters to life. And when some ignorant foodtube is too lazy to look them up and instead says, “Oh, let’s put in a special effect!” they lose anyone with an IQ above room temperature. I know Barnum was right when he said nobody ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the American public, but does everything have to be dumbed down to the lowest level?

  95. #95 transitionalform
    February 18, 2009

    i dunno the Nature magazine podcast of an interview with Paul Bettany, an atheist, did not make it sound maudlin in other ways innappropriate..

  96. #96 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    The director Jon Amiel gave a pretty good interview online with FastCompany. I do not believe we have to worry about him getting details wrong about Darwin. Check it out, http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/sara-d-anderson/fast-slice/divergent-darwin

    See? It’s looking better already.

    From the interview:

    No. I would be concerned if there was no backlash. Darwin?s ideas are not a theory or a hypothesis [but are] essentially a fact. They?re no more subject to question in my mind than the ideas Galileo or Newton or any of those other theories that are essentially beyond question. Those who would tell us that the world is only six thousand years old would still probably want to tell us the sun revolves around the earth. I hope this film provokes some lively backlash; it will be a sign at least that we did something right.

  97. #97 Sigmund
    February 18, 2009

    I still think they should have had Chris Rock play Alfred Russell Wallace. By the way, I hear there is an animated version of Darwin’s life on the way, Wallace and Darwin.

  98. #98 SteveM
    February 18, 2009

    In fact, the most interesting thing about Nash is the fact that pretty much by force of will, he brought himself back from Schizophrenia! Psychologists would have us believe that isn’t even possible! Hollywood left that, along with anything else that might challenge, out of the eviscerated shell that was “A Beautiful Mind”.

    Actually, that he cured himself through “force of will” is exactly what I got out of the film and when I stated that somewhere around here, I was soundly taken to task that he did not “cure himself”, and it was only with better medication that he got his scizophrenia under control.

    And as for his research, I thought they did a pretty good job of presenting how the Nash Equilibrium works.

  99. #99 Ray Ladbury
    February 18, 2009

    First, Nash equilibrium was only one of Nash’s contributions. Second, I could barely recognize it from the description in the movie. Third, if you look at what Nash himself says, he credits discipline in his thinking more than drugs–which aren’t all that effective (~33%) for schizophrenia.

  100. #100 Bill Dauphin
    February 18, 2009

    By the way, I hear there is an animated version of Darwin’s life on the way, Wallace and Darwin.

    I can’t follow the link, because video is blocked on this computer, but I have to say the first thing that popped into my mind was “Cheese, Darwin!” ;^)

  101. #101 Ryan F Stello
    February 18, 2009

    Sounds like it will be just as sloppy as Sommersby.

  102. #102 pough
    February 18, 2009

    I don’t understand why we need a movie about Darwin’s personal life.

    Wha? I’m familiar with the words “need” and “movie”, but I’ve never seen them used in the same sentence before. Do you come from some other universe where movies are made on the basis of need? I hope I never go there, because none of my favourite movies are likely to exist in that universe. (With the possible exception of Spinal Tap.)

  103. #103 varlo
    February 18, 2009

    Are you sure it isn’t going to be a musical? “I sing of evolution, and how it came to be, I’ve found a great solution to all life’s mystery” to the tune of British Grenadiers. Could even that be worse?

  104. #104 Wayne Robinson
    February 18, 2009

    I strongly intend to see the film when it comes out (and buy the DVD too). From the interviews with Paul Bettany, it doesn’t sound too bad. And also, if successful, it will really irritate the creationists.

  105. #105 Erp
    February 18, 2009

    I doubt there are any actual ghosts. Charles Darwin was known to be anti-spiritualism though his cousin/brother-in-law Hensleigh Wedgwood was into it. He did attend a seance in January 1874 (with among others George Eliot, Francis Galton, Hensleigh) and after wrote to Hooker “The Lord have mercy on us all if we have to believe in such rubbish.” He later wrote to Huxley about a seance Huxley attended, “now to my mind an enormous weight of evidence would be requisite to make one believe in anything beyond mere trickery.”

  106. #106 revulo
    February 18, 2009

    Wow. Just WOW.

  107. #107 woody
    February 18, 2009

    @ 92: Posted by: Greg B | February 18, 2009 1:05 PM
    The movie ends with a deathbed recant.

    yup, that’s how it goes…and it sounds as if it would be inevitable…

  108. #108 gdlchmst
    February 18, 2009

    The script is based on Randal Keynes’ biography of darwin: “Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution.” With Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly in the leading cast, how could this movie not be good?

    I’m psyched about it.

  109. #109 Patricia, OM
    February 18, 2009

    Cedgray@44 – Thanks for the link to the article. I feel much better about the movie after reading that. If it comes to my little fundie burg I’ll take a chance on it.

  110. #110 Austin
    February 18, 2009

    I’ve got it. The ghost of Darwin’s daughter read’s her father’s notes, which he has been keeping secret so as to not offend his wife. Seeing the truth and import of her father’s research, she possesses the body of Alfred Wallace (sp?) and forces him to write on natural selection from a more hypothetical basis, and then leaves his body. Waking from his daze, Wallace sees the notes in front of him, thinks they make a little sense, and goes to a trusted elder in the local science community, Charles Darwin, to take a look at the notes. Darwin sees that Wallace has derived a nearly identical theory to his own, and decides to publish his research in full. The camera pans out of the house to show the ghost of Darwin’s daughter floating above the house, gazing happily on her work.

  111. #111 Jim Barrett
    February 18, 2009

    This sounds a lot like a play called ‘Trumpery’ that I saw in NYC in late 2007 (there’s a review at the New York Times website), but, as far as I can tell from the movie’s IMDB entry, there’s no connection. The play includes the seance and Darwin sees his daughter’s spirit – or maybe it’s just a neighbor’s child or a hallucination.

  112. #112 gypsytag
    February 18, 2009

    i can imagine that someone is metaphorically rolling over in his grave.

  113. #113 Aphrodine
    February 18, 2009

    @Kevin #11:

    Absolutely! We don’t want blood-thirsty murderers to walk out on our streets, do we?!

    [/sarcasm]

  114. #114 Nerdette
    February 18, 2009

    No Wallace in the posted credits.. I dunno. Even “The Fall” had Wallace.

  115. #115 Holydust
    February 18, 2009

    disgusting.

    Bettany played Darwin (or rather, a character clearly modeled after Darwin detail-for-detail) in Master and Commander.

    that version of Darwin was pretty much spot on.

    they do not need to screw that up now by doing this film. -_-;

    my god, the NAME ALONE says it all. ugh!

  116. #116 ggab
    February 18, 2009

    I’ll be there opening day. I hope there are protestors.
    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but a lot of you cats strike me as being too cynical. Wow that feels strange to say.
    Anyway, I’m excited to see it.
    Religulous is coming out on dvd. Lots of people here bitched and moaned about that one, but I got a big kick out of it. It even helped to convert a theist friend (with some help from me of course).

  117. #117 Desert Son
    February 18, 2009

    mandrake at #90:

    (Yes, I *know* the US was NOT the largest slave-holding nation.)

    Believe me, the irony is not lost on me. Your point is well-taken, and a good reminder that, especially when it comes to history, gotta consider context, and we always have to look to our own shores. And, of course, we know much of the foundation of our own government (in the U.S.) has deep roots in classical Hellenic traditions.

    No kings,

    Robert

  118. #118 J-Dog
    February 18, 2009

    I WANT TO SEE SW’S MOVIE!!!!

  119. #119 JustaTech
    February 18, 2009

    @Catgirl (among others): Actually, there is a very good play about Niels Bohr and Werner Hiesenberg, Copenhagen. Just sayin’.

  120. #120 Quiet_Desperation
    February 18, 2009

    Sounds a bit derivative as well. Supposedly Darwin finds a secret door in his house with a tunnel that leads to a parallel world with the “Other Evolution” that is really creationism. The deity there tries to make Darwin admit that the eye could not evolve independently multiple times, but Darwin resists and manages to escape thanks to a hyperintelligent chimp. In 3D.

    But Jennifer Connelly is in it, so who cares?

  121. #121 Sastra
    February 18, 2009

    I really hope the ghost is metaphorical or symbolic, a “coping mechanism” as someone said. Otherwise, it’s pandering to a public that wants reassurance that souls and God are all real. Using Darwin as a vehicle for promoting the paranormal would be a travesty.

    Worse would be using the theory of evolution to show science as the result of “revelations from beyond.” People like to think that scientists get their ideas through mystical dreams and intuitions, flashing insights that theoretically could happen to “anyone.” The years of education, painstaking hard work, trial, and error behind scientific discoveries means that expertise matters. No it doesn’t — enter a little girl’s ghost! Science is just another kind of magic after all! “It all comes down to love.”

    It does sound from comments that these fears are probably groundless. I’m feeling better since I read them.

  122. #122 MarkusR
    February 18, 2009

    I demand that this movie have Aliens in it. And Lt. Ellen Ripley.

  123. #123 The Beagle Project
    February 18, 2009

    Qwerty @89, Stein getting roughed up by Darwin? Done.

  124. #124 Steve_C
    February 18, 2009

    Hahaha… a little Monty Python fish slap… love it.

  125. #125 Joshua Zelinsky
    February 18, 2009

    SteveM at 98, They didn’t explain Nash equilibria correctly at all. The whole point of the equilibirium is that you can have situations where no one wants to switch out of the current situation until someone else does. And the notion that somehow Nash’s work refuted the ideas of Adam Smith was just laughable. The point that cooperation in games can sometimes help people was known well before Nash.

    There’s also the obligatory xkcd on this topic:
    http://xkcd.com/182/

  126. #126 DaveG
    February 18, 2009

    Who plays Ray “Bananas” Comfort?

  127. #127 Sven DiMilo
    February 18, 2009

    [Fade in from black; we see DARWIN, in bed, feeling ill and morose but looking very attractive indeed anyway]
    Darwin: My life is meaningless without my beloved Annie. *sob* I cannot even marshal the necessary energy to rise from my bed of grief and depair.
    Butler: A letter for you, sir, having arrived in to-day’s post.
    Darwin: Thank you, Greaves. [reads] Fuck!! Some schlub named Wallace has figured out my Top Secret Best Idea of All Time! I’ll be scooped! Scooped!! Oh, woe; woe is me. I. Woe am I. Now what? First the tragic and untimely death of my beloved Annie and now to be robbed of the honor and prestige of having an -ism named for me in the future (not to mention my lifelong dream of eternal rest next to Newton in Westminster Abbey) by some malaria-ridden working-class butterfly-pinner. Woe sez me!
    The Ghost of Annie: BOO!!!
    Darwin: Yah!! What the… Annie! Annie, can it be? Are you real? Speak to me, my beloved daughter!
    The Ghost of Annie [fading]: booooooooooooooooo…
    Darwin: What? What dear girl? No! Do not leave me yet again; I could not bear it! *sob* Wait. A moment’s respite…what was that she moaned? ‘boooo…’ Boo…t? no that makes no sense…Boat? Boost? Boop? Book…yes! That’s it! I shall write a Book! [leaps from bed, grabs pen and ink, begins scribbling furiously] Yes! I shall call it… uh…”On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life as Revealed by the Spectre of the Author’s Beloved but Dead Daughter Annie”. yes, yes…let’s see…Chapter One: How to Breed Fancy Pigeons for Fun and Profit…”
    END

  128. #128 The Chemist
    February 18, 2009

    So wait, if his daughter Annie died… was Darwin a reverse-Orphan Annie?

  129. #129 RamziD
    February 18, 2009

    Or is this something to cater for an American audience, i.e. made to please pin-heads (apologies to the small minority of Americans who do not fall in the p-h category), so they have to add some shit like spielberg does to trivialise even the best story?

    Considering that the production company is BBC Films and thus most likely to be seen by Brits, maybe they’re just trying to please your country’s pinheads…

  130. #130 wfr
    February 18, 2009

    To Commenter #63: Great interview, thanks! My favorite Bettany quote:

    “Darwin is one of those people you feel you know, when in actual fact, when it gets down to it, you realize that everything you do know about him could be written on the back of a ten pound note next to that picture of the old guy with the beard.”

  131. #131 Matt Heath
    February 18, 2009

    @Ray Ladbury: Well Nash’s work in algebraic topology did get a mention (at the end, him complaining that everyone seems interested only in the game theory). The biggest distortion (at least compared to how it is in the biography of the same name) was making Nash so likeable.

  132. #132 Inoculated Mind
    February 18, 2009

    I don’t know about you, but this could be a good movie for popularizing Darwin and the TOE. Anybody know if there’s a science adviser for the film?

    I will reserve judgement until I know more. Who needs an historically inaccurate movie about the personal life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? We got Amadeus – which was, despite the fictional Salieri plot, was really, really good. This movie could be the same kind of thing.

    On the other hand, it could be like Immortal Beloved. Which was dross. That’s right, random space ash and dust. Utterly useless and a waste of two good hours.

  133. #133 Matt Heath
    February 18, 2009

    Geag B @92: *citation needed*. I’m not buying that Darwin’s descendent – his godless descendent – who wrote the book would stand for the recantation pseudo-history.

  134. #134 Knockgoats
    February 18, 2009

    And who plays his comedic side-kick? – J-Dog

    Pity Marty Feldman’s no longer with us – imagine the things he could have done with barnacles!

  135. #135 WRMartin
    February 18, 2009

    I kinda had my hopes up for a Comedy-Musical-Horror – like Rocky Horror Picture Show. One day it’ll be in its 1000th showing at the midnight movie and we’ll all dress up as our favorite characters, shout answers back at the screen and throws slices of toast. Personally, I’m really looking forward to dancing in the aisles.

  136. #136 deadman_932
    February 18, 2009

    The scriptwriter is John Collee, who wrote “Master and Commander.”

    Paul Bettany, who plays ChuckyD, gives an interview here: http://esciencenews.com/sources/the.guardian.science/2009/02/11/playing.darwin.with.creation and says this:

    ” Like I say, I don’t think it is a film about atheism, but for me, as an atheist, to have a viable alternative is incredibly important. The difficulty of looking at a system like natural selection if you have any sort of moral sense yourself, is almost what makes it beautiful. ”

    —————————–

    The director, Jon Amiel, gives an interview here http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/sara-d-anderson/fast-slice/divergent-darwin

    and says —

    ” Darwin has been demonized by the conservative Christian right as sort of anti-Christ. I would hope that anybody who had that image of Darwin would have those ideas dispelled by the portrait of a man in enormous conflict, basically a socially conservative man who found himself drawn to seemingly deeply subversive conclusions. Secondly I hope that most people coming away from the film will be enormously entertained and deeply moved. I don?t know anyone who?s yet seen the rough cut that hasn?t been moved to tears. And finally, I hope that by connecting to the man viewers will want to be more deeply connected to his ideas.”
    ——————————

    It’s just a movie and the primary focus of it is entertainment — let’s see what they do with it.

  137. #137 'Tis Himself
    February 18, 2009

    Well, com?on guys, it?s a period piece, and biographical, and it?s about evolution! You got no bank robberies, no helicopters, no aliens, no car chases.

    Why bother to watch it if it doesn’t have any good stuff in it?

    [Not even an ox-cart falling off a cliff and exploding halfway down?]

  138. #138 deadman_932
    February 18, 2009

    Another quote from the director, to hearten the heathen:

    Question: “With all of the religious and scientific implications incorporated in this film, are you concerned that there will be any backlash?”

    Director Jon Amiel:
    “No. I would be concerned if there was no backlash. Darwin?s ideas are not a theory or a hypothesis [but are] essentially a fact. They?re no more subject to question in my mind than the ideas Galileo or Newton or any of those other theories that are essentially beyond question.

  139. #139 Margaret
    February 18, 2009

    The film is based on Annie’s Box, written by Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson. The book is based on family records (including accounts of Darwin written by his children), so it’s not as though the plot or ideas have come out of thin air or a Hollywood screenwriter’s bottom drawer. In fact, the screenwriter, John Collee, is Scottish, and has some reasonable films to his name (“Master and Commander”, “Happy Feet”, “The Man Who Sued God”).

    There is a review of the book here: http://www.aboutdarwin.com/literature/Review.html

    I know one person (an Australian science broadcaster) who has read the screenplay and speaks very highly of it. Personally, I’m holding judgement till I see it. Isn’t that what scientists are meant to do? Wait for the evidence, rather than condemning something on the basis of assumptions?

  140. #140 Margaret
    February 18, 2009

    The film is based on Annie’s Box, written by Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson. The book is based on family records (including accounts of Darwin written by his children), so it’s not as though the plot or ideas have come out of thin air or a Hollywood screenwriter’s bottom drawer. In fact, the screenwriter, John Collee, is Scottish, and has some reasonable films to his name (“Master and Commander”, “Happy Feet”, “The Man Who Sued God”).

    There is a review of the book here: http://www.aboutdarwin.com/literature/Review.html

    I know one person (an Australian science broadcaster) who has read the screenplay and speaks very highly of it. Personally, I’m holding judgement till I see it. Isn’t that what scientists are meant to do? Wait for the evidence, rather than condemning something on the basis of assumptions?

  141. #141 Kevin Schreck
    February 18, 2009

    I REALLY hope that it is just a metaphorical ghost, which will only surface in this synopsis and not in the film.

    Otherwise, we’ll have to look forward to the other upcoming movie on Darwin, “Mrs. Darwin.”

  142. #142 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    I know one person (an Australian science broadcaster) who has read the screenplay and speaks very highly of it. Personally, I’m holding judgement till I see it. Isn’t that what scientists are meant to do? Wait for the evidence, rather than condemning something on the basis of assumptions?

    You know, that’s really fucking annoying to keep reading. Yes, we fucking know that’s what scientists are supposed to fucking do. But that’s also how Stein and the creos fucked us with Expelled, so cut us some fucking slack, already.

    You know, if Hollywood had a reputation for truth and honesty, if we weren’t fighting dishonest fucking liars for Christ, Allah, or whoever on a daily fucking basis, if we weren’t beset by lying fucking theocrat politicians, if Sarah fucking Palin hadn’t been a serious contender in the last US presidential election, then, maybe then you’d have a point that a little skittishness about popular movies about Darwin is unwarranted.

    But we don’t live in that fucking world, we live in one where Ben Stein is invited to give convocation speeches on the basis that he’s pretty well always wrong but no one gives a fuck about that because he’s a famous Republican hack, so I think a little fucking skepticism about the motives of film makers is perfectly fucking appropriate.

  143. #143 Margaret
    February 18, 2009

    I’m sorry you’re having such a bad trot in your country, Brownian.

    Skepticism is one thing, but pre-judging is quite another. I also have a degree of cynicism about Hollywood (and indeed screenwriting, my erstwhile career), but maybe you should reserve your anger for actual Hollywood films, rather than one which is written by a British screenwriter, is based on a book by a British direct descendent of Darwin, which is directed by a Briton, is being made in Britain and is being produced by a British company.

    Keynes seems unlikely to sanction the sort of anti-science film you fear. He’s a vehement Darwinist, very protective of his great-great-grandfather’s reputation, active in the preservation and support of Down House, and a rather famous naturalist. I suspect that he has more invested in the legacy of Darwin than even you.

    This film might transpire to be a vat-load of utter bilge, and if it does, I’ll be as critical as the rest. Like I say, I am withholding judgement till then. If that distresses you, that’s unfortunate.

  144. #144 KristinMH
    February 18, 2009

    Are you sure it isn’t going to be a musical?

    There IS a one-man musical Darwin show:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/science/10tier.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/D/Darwin,%20Charles%20Robert

    I heard bits of it on one of the Scientific American podcasts. I imagine it would be both horrifying and amazing.

    Oh, and Brownian, you go wash your mouth out with soap! What about the children? ;)

  145. #145 prl
    February 18, 2009

    Craig @ 4

    Hey PZ, Pharyngulites,

    The NODAKS need your help. Yesterday, the ND legislature passed a bill that would define life beginning at conception–the moment an egg is fertilized. As one lawmaker put it “if it has one living human cell it is a person.” …

    Blood transfusion = mass abduction.

  146. #146 Frasque
    February 18, 2009

    Ghosts? Feh, these scriptwriters aren’t trying hard enough. If *I* were writing it, Darwin would be a whip-snapping adventuer played by Brendan Fraser and the Galapagos would be a lost world full of cgi dinosaurs and scantilty clad cavewomen. Investors, you know where to reach me.

  147. #147 micketymoc
    February 18, 2009

    Alan Rickman as Bishop Wilberforce.

    Judi Dench as Queen Victoria.

    Roma Downey as Lady Hope.

  148. #148 John Scanlon FCD
    February 18, 2009

    I hope they don’t waste the line “It’s like confessing a murder!”

    I mean, how did he know what that felt like?

  149. #149 John Scanlon FCD
    February 18, 2009

    Austin (#110) – that would make a great short film for those already familiar with the biography. In fact, you just made it and I watched it and I think you deserve an Oscar.

  150. #150 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    but maybe you should reserve your anger for actual Hollywood films, rather than one which is written by a British screenwriter, is based on a book by a British direct descendent of Darwin, which is directed by a Briton, is being made in Britain and is being produced by a British company.

    Now who’s pre-judging? Britain’s not any more immune to bullshit than the US or Canada (my country).

    I suspect as you do, given the interviews and information about this flick that have surfaced over the course of this thread, that it probably won’t be a vat-load of bilge, and I look forward to its release. Your desire to withhold judgment till then doesn’t distress me in the least; it’s the patronising chiding that does.

  151. #151 Nathan
    February 18, 2009

    I think my compatriot Brownian here is making a valid point that it doesn’t matter where the film is being made, some critical examination of the intentions of the film and it’s makers is in light of Expelled completely within reason.

  152. #152 Brownian
    February 18, 2009

    Yeah, I feel bad for flipping out. Sorry about that Margaret.

  153. #153 Sign Me Up
    February 18, 2009

    Jennifer Connelly? Sign me up. She worked in A Beautiful Mind.

  154. #154 Scrabcake
    February 19, 2009

    a) I’m a straight girl and I think Jennifer Connoly is hawt, so therefore, she is truly hawt.
    b) This just screams “meaningful”,”uplifting”, and “lifechanging”. In other words, it will be a cold day in hell when I go see it, but doubtless the goons at the Academy will love it.

  155. #155 Twin-Skies
    February 19, 2009

    @Sign Me Up #153

    John Amiel’s directing it? Wunderbar! Then we can expect this movie to be choc-ful of accurate, relevant scientific data, like The Core!

  156. #156 windy
    February 19, 2009

    Adam Rutherford:

    Self-promotion corner, but I interviewed Paul Bettany about it, and he knows his stuff, and said all the right things as far as I’m concerned.

    Wow, great interview for both of you. This from Bettany was a bit curious though:

    [Maturin] had great personal resources, whereas Darwin, not so much. I think he would have absolutely fallen apart had he been away from Emma [Darwin] for more than a week.

    OK, so he’s talking about the older Darwin when he was sick, but would he really have mentally fallen apart that easily? The guy had managed to travel around the world…

  157. #157 Thomas
    February 19, 2009

    Why not make his bio into an action flick? The aliens have invaded the “Beagle” and Darwin uses his kung fu to save the day…

  158. #158 Margaret
    February 19, 2009

    Brownian #150: “I suspect as you do, given the interviews and information about this flick that have surfaced over the course of this thread, that it probably won’t be a vat-load of bilge, and I look forward to its release.”

    Gosh, and just a little googling would have told you everything you’ve learned in the thread, and you wouldn’t have needed to go off on that half-cocked “fuck”-ridden rant. My entire initial point was about pre-judging without evidence.

    Or was #150 your special way of saying, “Oh, sorry, I was mistaken”?

    (And if that also sounds like “patronising chiding”, well, some people are just asking for it.)

  159. #159 Margaret
    February 19, 2009

    #152 Ooops, didn’t see the apology, Brownian, before I posted the above.

    Apology accepted, and please, ignore my last post.

  160. #160 dNorrisM
    February 19, 2009

    Maybe it’ll make the National Review’s next list of conserative movies. Here is a review of their current choices. Team America made the list, and Thank you for smoking almost did.

  161. #161 faithless
    February 19, 2009

    Oh, well, I guess married actor couples in Hollywood are all entitled to their own Far and away farrago.

    If Jennifer’s in the film, though, I will have to watch it. Curses.

  162. #162 astrounit
    February 21, 2009

    Hollywood strikes again.

    Please.

    Go back on strike.

    The assinine fantasies of the current crop of producers and writers will not be missed.

    Let real storytellers make even more money with films that actually respect reality, history and the facts.

    Are you listening, all you smart investors out there? Want to make much more money? Stop giving these idiots a budget. Get rid of them. Try out people who actually think that a biographical film (or ANY film, for that matter)should be an artform conducted with integrity and dignity and honesty.

    Instead of as a means to “cheat the audience”.

    You’ll all be smiling much more broadly on the way to the bank.

    Or do you really think something like, say, ‘300 Spartans’ was a ‘great movie’ because it was a ‘blockbuster’ and couldn’t possibly have made any more? If so, get the hell out of the film business altogether, because the rest of us want to make real dough with truly great films.

  163. #163 sampablokuper
    May 11, 2009

    catgirl, it’s very hard to understand any scientist’s work without knowing something of that scientist’s character and context.

    I don’t, however, say this in order to defend the film, which looks like it’s not going to convey Darwin’s character or context terribly accurately at all.

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