A revisionist biopic on Charles Darwin, illustrated via 18 tableaux covering details from Darwin's birth, his defining voyage on the HMS Beagle, the publication of his seminal Theory of ... See full summary »


Peter Greenaway


Peter Greenaway


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Episode credited cast:
Jacques Bonnaffé ... Narrateur (voice)
Barbara M. Messner Barbara M. Messner ... Crazy
Germain Pengel Germain Pengel ... Orphan child / indian child
Yannick Pengel Yannick Pengel ... Orphan child
Bert Sevenhuijsen Bert Sevenhuijsen ... Charles Darwin (as Bert Svenhujsen)


A revisionist biopic on Charles Darwin, illustrated via 18 tableaux covering details from Darwin's birth, his defining voyage on the HMS Beagle, the publication of his seminal Theory of Evolution and his ultimate death and consequent burial at Westminster Abbey. Written by Thivanka Rukshan Perera

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Release Date:

16 July 1993 (France) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Greenaway presents Darwin
27 May 2013 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

Here's an interesting concept that puts to shame many biopics and documentaries out there, thankful to the artistic and genial efforts of Mr. Peter Greenaway. The life and works of Charles Darwin are presented as 18 tableaux that tells a little about Darwin's background, the context which he lived in, making possible the creation of his controversial and outstanding book on the evolutionism "The Origin of the Species", considered a huge scientific advancement in explaining how life was made possible through evolution, and also regarded as an outrageous act written by an atheist who was denying the existence of God. A defying publishing that changed the world as we know it, a boundless transgression that, as said in this piece, made us free from anything.

Master of his craft and always inventive, Greenaway elaborates fascinating moments, using of a sound stage, minimally recreating 19th century's England or the Beagle ship - the one used by Darwin to travel through Brazil, Patagonia, Terra Del Fuego and make his species discoveries. One of the most spectacular sequences is when Darwin gets round a table, then he becomes God creating Adam and Eve, on a scene that reminds us of Da Vinci's painting in the Sistine Chapel. Greenaway's creativity has no limits, it's poetic, beautiful and pleasurable to look at. OK, it would benefit more in here with more close-up shots instead of being filmed so distant from the viewers, the images are so in the deep and so dark (too dark to see, actually, at times) that it's almost imperceivable. Jacques Bonnaffé narration - the only voice heard on screen - was good but it could be less rushed and more paused.

Its greatest accomplish is in the way it presents its information, so many things, on a rare and different fashion, and with so few words and few running time. Not one wasted moment. So much to learn from here. More like this should be made, I can only imagine the personalities that could be analyzed in such an artistic and unusual way, and also imagine other directors that could pull off with brilliance such a difficult task. 7/10

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