Darwin is a documentary feature about an isolated community at the end of a weathered road in Death Valley, California. Propelled from society by tragic turns, the people of Darwin (... See full summary »

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Darwin is a documentary feature about an isolated community at the end of a weathered road in Death Valley, California. Propelled from society by tragic turns, the people of Darwin (population 35) must now find ways to coexist in a place without a government, a church, jobs, or children. The film tells the story of a uniquely American place and yet a place that is unique even within America. Written by Taylor Segrest

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12 August 2011 (USA)  »

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A profile of an end-of-the-road California town.
18 October 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The subtitle refers to a sign on the outskirts of this remote wreck of a California town (Pop.35), a sign erected to dissuade uninvited visitors from proceeding any further down a weathered road. A windswept Death Valley location, Darwin seems the end of the road for dilapidated, ramshackle houses, corroding vehicles, mining detritus--and eccentric folk, only one of who, the postmistress, has a job. Government and commerce are non-existent, and a fragile water system as well as the town's close proximity to a naval bombing range lend a dystopian air to the place. Yet the people are resilient, even defiant of their surroundings. Once a mining town of 3500 (cue the archival photographs), it's now home to, variously, a sculptor, a writer, an anarchist, a pagan couple, a car restorer, a trans-gendered female, several retirees, a self- described "bon vivant," and Dell Heter, the "Boogie Woogie Man"; almost all depend on federal checks for their incomes. There are no children. Lots of interviews with these folk, interspersed with lingering shots of what some would label a wasteland that surrounds them. One claims that Darwin is "a magnet for people who've had problems," most of which involve drugs, alcohol, and prison time. One could easily be repelled by this crowd, but their resiliency, pride, and commitment to their place is somehow redemptive. Fine cinematography.


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