A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.
Creation, starring Briton Paul Bettany, details the naturalist’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 after the death of his daughter, Annie, 10.
The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere today. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.
However, US distributors turned down the film that will prove divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll taken in February, only 39 per cent of people believe in the theory of evolution.
Movieguide.org, an influential site that reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.
Although, to be fair, this is only part of the story. One reason it probably isn’t getting picked up is that it isn’t a blockbuster story — it’s a small film with a personal story. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, but it’s not a Michael Bay noisemaker with car chases and explosions, or giant robots, or a remake of a 1970s cheesy TV show. That makes it a tougher sell.
Also, while it’s going to generate a little controversy from the know-nothing brigades, it’s not a movie that embraces the controversy and makes a lot of PR waves. I suspect it’s falling into the valley of the dead movies, where it’s got just enough negative vibe to turn away a segment (a small, stupid segment, of course, but theaters don’t care about the IQ of the people buying popcorn) of the population, but not enough shock value to make it a must-see movie for the controversy alone.