Nova: Season 37, Episode 1

Darwin's Darkest Hour (6 Oct. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 143 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

Charles Darwin is taken aback when he receives a manuscript from a colleague, Alfred Wallace, which contains many of the same conclusions as he on evolution and the development of various ... See full summary »

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Title: Darwin's Darkest Hour (06 Oct 2009)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Sir Charles Lyell
Richard Donat ...
Dr. Robert Darwin
Vanessa Walton-Bone ...
Elizabeth Wedgwood
...
Parslow
Daniel Lillford ...
Dr. Engleheart
John O'Keefe ...
Postman
...
Alfred Wallace
Mike MacPhee ...
William Fitzroy (as Mike McPhee)
Jacob Robertson ...
Simon Pattison ...
Horace Darwin
Owen Pattison ...
Rosin Boyle ...
Etty Darwin (as Roisin Boyle)
Jeff Schwager ...
John Gould
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Charles Darwin is taken aback when he receives a manuscript from a colleague, Alfred Wallace, which contains many of the same conclusions as he on evolution and the development of various species. Darwin's theory was developed over a great many years and in flashbacks, the manner in which it developed is shown. He had many supporters and likely more critics. He knew that his ideas were radical and that they would conflict with religious thought on the subject of creation. In reviewing his thoughts however, he realizes that he can without much difficulty claim to have been the first to develop the theory. These events spur him on to publish his findings in his now famous book. Written by garykmcd

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In 1858 Charles Darwin struggles to publish one of the most controversial scientific theories ever conceived... while he and his wife Emma confront family tragedy.


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6 October 2009 (USA)  »

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Plays Loosely With the Facts
13 January 2015 | by (Victoria, BC. Canada) – See all my reviews

This is a pretty movie. Darwin's six charming children are perfectly clean, starched and combed, who might have Mary Poppins or Maria von Trapp as nanny. His wife is a vision of loveliness in gigantic hoop skirts. There is no dust or anything broken in his house. His huge gardens are perfectly tended by invisible gardeners. His papers are perfectly arranged so that even something from a decade past is right on top. We never find out how this magnificent gleaming estate is financed.

I have problems with the movie because it so conflicts with everything I heard about Darwin. His wife was an ardent Christian, who strenuously opposed him publishing. Yet in the movie she is his champion and cheerleader urging him to publish.

Darwin was terrified of how Christians would react to his work. He made himself ill with fear. Yet in the movie, he is always in perfect health.

When his daughter died, that ended Darwin's belief in a benign god. This was a key event in his life. It was handled very indirectly in a single sentence in the movie. I felt the director was Christian and was dishonestly doing all he could to make Darwin look like a solid Christian. Darwin was well aware what he was doing would rock the church to its foundations. Darwin's father and grandfather were atheist, so his lack of faith should be expected.

The movie used a clumsy device. After years of marriage, Darwin finally decided to tell his wife what he had been doing in his lab all those years. Why the silence? Why the breaking of the silence? Not explained. This allowed the camera to do flashbacks. The exposition went on and on. Darwin used quite archaic, guarded language which was not very helpful to the modern viewer. I think some poetic licence could have done this exposition work with specific examples and visuals of animals and plants, rather than people walking about a garden talking in abstractions.

The movie ends with the publication of Origin Of Species. The truly interesting part comes later.

Unfortunately, you don't learn much about evolution. The main subject is who gets credit for ideas.


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