Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Charles Darwin film 'too controversial for religious America'

  • Charles Darwin film 'too controversial for religious America'

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.
The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.
However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution., an influential site which 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" directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to "atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering", the site stated.

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," he said.
"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.
"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."

Mr 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.

"Have just read an article about "Should America Grow Up". The question of religion is perhaps one of the reasons for the article. As a nation that considers itself to be a leader, how on earth could so many people bury there head in the sand. As Richard Dawkins says "Think for your self"."

"The frightening thing here, is not whether the film promotes a debate on whether God exists or not, but the fact that it has been decided that Americans are not allowed to watch a movie.Surely we should be able to make our own choices whether to see a movie or not. I hardly think seeing a film about a grief stricken scientist who lost his daughter and subsequently questioned God's existence would challenge any religious persons mind about their own religious beliefs. I find this a bit frightening that we would be controlled this way. It looks like a well made interesting film to me, and I am shocked that someone else has decided for me that I cannot see it."

"Charles Darwin undoubtedly is one of the greatest minds that have appeared. Like Galileo he was rediculed for his great discoveries by the religious oracles. Unfortunately, throughout the history of mankind we have seen that monothesitic religions only crop up the seeds of hatred and disrespect notably towards scientific intellectuals. This is why I believe in a secular society as progress is achieved through logical factualities and not mythological and mystical speculations."

"As an American, it brings me great shame to read articles like these. Maybe if more of us read the founding fathers' writings, we would see that America was never meant to be a Christian nation Frankly, I am surprised that they had the balls to show Idiocracy.


bullmoosegal said...

Sadly, evolution has become an issue that needlessly divides Christians even among themselves. I am a devout Christian and a biologist, and have no difficulty in not only reconciling evolution and my faith, but in actively integrating and celebrating both.

Anonymous said...

First, it was Jeremy Thomas who said it was not being distributed in the USA for the reasons sited here and I see no other proof to show otherwise (possibly even a publicity ploy like the anti-semetic remarks made about the Passion of the Christ rocketing that movie to stardom where it may otherwise been just another little known movie DvD on the ... Read Moreselves). However, I think it more likely it wasn't being picked up initially as it would likely loose money and we all know that Hollywood is about making money. Second, some of the reviews by even the secular press have not been touting the greatness or even historical accuracy of Creation. While some Christian websites, etc., would naturally be adverse to such a movie (perhaps even to some extremes) we've had much more controversial films shown here and any true Christian would no more be fearful of this movie than Mahrer's Religulous. As a Christian, as a believer in human rights, and living up to that which I am commanded in loving others, I have supported the free thinking people of Iran in their plight against the brutal regime ... I wonder just what movies they "allow" there. We have no such censorship in this free country ... perhaps it best to stick to the topic of the Revolutionary Road and not make potential adversaries of some who are open minded and open hearted to support freedom of speech, and those seeking AZADI throughout the world (including Iran).

Oh, and as for Darwin being "one of the greatest minds" ... that too could be open to debate.

Anonymous said...

errr.....yeh but the last Paul Bettany film also struggled to get US distribution and that wasn't controversial at all.

Truth is, Creation isn't very good. It's too long and the despite the emotional heart having high stakes, it strangely fails to move.

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