Creation: Will you be allowed to see it?
Creation is a British docudrama that, in addition to portraying his monumental accomplishments, tells the story of Charles Darwin‘s family life—particularly the death of his 10 year-old daughter and the effect it had on his belief on God. Darwin and his wife are portrayed by real like couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly; the film recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to solid reviews and will eventually be seen in theaters all over the world. But it has yet to find an American distributor.
Jeremy Thomas, the film’s Oscar-winning producer, says that the lack of interest is because Darwin’s theory of evolution is still controversial here in the States, and distributors don’t want to touch a film that so much of our largely Christian nation might find offensive. But an early review from 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.” In other words, Creation is not a violently hateful piece of atheistic propaganda designed to ‘convert’ Christians to a life of atheism. Or at least that’s what I’m assuming; I could be wrong. You see, I haven’t been given the chance to actually decide for myself yet.
The Passion of the Christ was very controversial because of its unrelenting violence and its unflattering depiction of Jews. Yet it grossed over $350 million in America alone. Why was that? Well, maybe it’s because some folks were starving for a film that dealt explicitly with Christianity in a culture—and a medium—that is largely secular. Fair enough. But a mistake that some of the less thoughtful Christians make is believing that every piece of mass media that doesn’t explicitly sing God’s praises is yet another example of atheism. So when a film comes out that makes the case for evolution—a theory that might bolster atheism but is still widely accepted by all manner of religious folks—they tend to say, “See? Once again, our beliefs are ridiculed and our poor, simple children are being pulled further from the flock.” And maybe some kids could be led astray from the beliefs of their parents by a movie about Charles Darwin; rational thought has that effect sometimes.
No one should be under the illusion that a BBC-funded biopic about a great scientist is blockbuster material. This film is unlikely to make anyone a huge amount of money. Early reports suggest that is too mature and reasoned for mainstream tastes. It makes you wonder if maybe The Passion of the Christ was so successful because we saw Jesus take a beating for two hours, only to rise again at the end with all of the melodramatic righteousness of a beaten-down hero about to deliver some serious payback. Creation probably doesn’t offer that kind of catharsis, the kind we (and I definitely include myself here) love so much here in the States. Still, I’d like to be able to see for myself, and I’d rather not have to cross the border to do it.