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Film / Creation

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Creation is a 2009 British biographical drama film. Produced by Jeremy Thomas, the film was directed by Jon Amiel, and stars Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as Charles and Emma Darwin (themselves married in Real Life). John Collee wrote the script based on Randal Keynes' biography of Darwin, titled Annie's Box.

The film is a partly biographical, partly fictionalised account of Charles Darwin's relationship with his eldest daughter, Annie (Martha West), as he struggles to write On the Origin of Species.


  • Anachronic Order: The film jumps back and forth to various times and places, sometimes with little or no warning.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Our introduction to Emma Darwin in the dinner scene, where she pointedly says grace just as Charles is about to raise the spoon to his lips. He waits grudgingly for her to finish, and refrains from joining the family in saying "Amen."
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Less than a minute after Joseph Hooker establishes that Annie has died, Charles engages in his first conversation with her ghost.
  • Kissing Cousins: Charles and Emma are cousins, and take offense when a friend (unknowingly) makes a joke of it. Charles later wonders if being related led to Annie being too weak.
  • Mood Whiplash: While bittersweet, the story Charles tells Annie about his encounter with Jenny the orangutan is sufficiently enchanting to make the following line this.
    Annie: Go on, then. Tell me about the part where she gets sick and dies.
  • Papa Wolf: Charles is furious to learn that Reverend Innes has made Annie kneel on rock salt for claiming that dinosaurs are real, and has to be prevented by Emma from storming out of the house to confront Innes.
  • Parental Favoritism: Zigzagged. Most of the parent-child interaction we see is with Annie, and he shows a special bond with her, but it is clear that Charles loves and dotes on all his children. Once Annie grows ill, Charles's attention shifts exclusively to her well-being, and his neglect of her siblings continues after her death leaves him consumed by grief. By the end of the film, he is once again able to give them the affection they deserve.
  • Posthumous Character: Annie is shown through flashbacks and through Charles's interactions with her ghost-like hallucination.
  • Secular Hero: Charles Darwin, who is portrayed as being irreligious to begin with and only growing more so as his discovery of evolution drives him further away from religion, but portrayed sympathetically still.
  • Sexless Marriage: After Annie dies, Charles and Emma have one.
  • Shout-Out: This isn't the first time Charles Darwin has been depicted touching fingers with an orangutan.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Also a Freeze-Frame Bonus. Look closely at the contents of the trunk in Darwin's office. One of the papers is an actual page from one of the (many) notebooks he filled during his life.
    • The film draws extensively from the biography on which it is based. Many pieces of characterization (such as the butler Parslow's "Soup du jour" joke and Emma Darwin's virtuoso piano playing), wardrobe (like Annie Darwin's pink dress), as well as lines of dialogue are taken directly from historical documentation, mainly Charles and Emma Darwin's (and their children's) personal writings. The daguerrotype of Annie taken at the start of the film is based on one of the only existing photographs of the real Annie Darwin.
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Annie dies from it. Charles' own illness is shown to be very undignified.