An original and entertaining adventure film from the early-'70s
An adventure film and biographical study from 1972 vis a vis the young Charles Darwin's ventures in Latin America and the Galapagos that is organic, idiosyncratic and purposeful. Darwin's objective curiosity and enthusiasm about the natural world which led to "Tte Origin of Species" and "The Descent of Man" is revealed by the flair of young, handsome English actor Nicholas Clay: in appearance he is reminiscent of a flamboyant Jane Austen figure - he wears Regency costume and has medium-length wavy chestnut hair. Ian Richardson's Captain Fitzroy - a moral Christian, counterpoints Darwin's new principles and theories about evolution. The film ends with Huxley's successful defence of Darwin's principles before the British Association.
American director, Jack Couffer photographed and compiled 60000 feet of material illustrating wild life as Darwin described it in "The Voyage of the Beagle", according to Rod Cooper in Kinematograph Weekly (July 1971.)Vis a vis Derek Malcolm's review in The Guardian, in August 1971, Couffer and producer Joseph Strick (producer of The Savage Eye, Tropic of Cancer and Ulysses) were interested in ecology in general. The film features a vivid and exotic range of images from tropical butterflies to iguanas on the Galapagos Islands. One scene features finches on the Galapagos using cactus spines with their beaks to poke holes in tree branches to capture grubs. Another striking scene features Jesus lizards running on the surface of a pool in the Amazon rain forest.
The film was made in and around the Harefield Grove Estate, near Denham and Colchester, where the maritime scenes on the Beagle were filmed. Especially worth mentioning is the BBC2 land-mark documentary-series from 1978 - The Voyage of Charles Darwin, starring the Chaucerian Malcolm Stoddard as Darwin and Andrew Burt as Captain Fitzroy.
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