Charles Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ has been called the biggest single idea in the history of thought. The film is personal story of this genius, his trauma and an emotional journey prior to the publication of the book. Imagine a time when sharing his research was regarded as the biggest blasphemy for him. It’s quite a thing to know that unlike many misinterpretations, he neither believed in redundancy of the almighty nor agreed that the science is at war with religion. On the contrary he himself believed that we live in a society and it’s a society bound together by the church.
It’s not a film about how Darwin had gathered the ideas for the evolution theory or how he came to conclusion and all that but a very personal and private account of Darwin as human being; as a family man. It’s a film about the disturbed state of mind he’s passing through in his personal life prior to the publication of his book. The loss of religious faith at personal level is a slow and fragile process for him but the most intimate loss is death of his dearest and curious daughter Annie at very tender age. It’s heartbreaking moment which shook his faith in God. His unwell health making him physically weaker and he’s in limbo to publish his observations. Perhaps it’s a battle too personal to win or lose!
Many scenes make us think- i.e- the scene where he visits church offering prayer with his family rationalizing the words uttered by priest. Its well made film by director Jon Amiel but it would be more better if he would led us more into his speculations shared with his kids in few scenes. His telling stories to his inquisitive and rational daughter are something I crave more and more in the film, especially one with baby orang utan jenny. The second half becomes quite dark when hallucinations and memory of his daughter highlight the drama. It’s quite digression but the film concluded with subtle positive ending and it’s refined moments witnessing the unification of husband and wife shedding all their inherent guilt complex.
One has to watch the film for its aesthetic cinematography too. Paul Bettany as Darwin is one of the brilliant unnoticed performances of the last year, Martha West as Annie and Jennifer Connelly as Darwin’s wife are worthy to mention for their fine supporting act.