Update and a few thoughts on Creation (dir. John Amiel 2009)

OK, first things first - I submitted my thesis about 3.30pm this afternoon! I am now very happy and very tired and I think it hasn't quite sunk in yet... I think I'll need a bit of time to recover, but normal blog service will resume as soon as possible.

In the meantime, though, I went to see Creation last night - the new film about the writing of The Origin of Species - which was very good. It did remind me once again, though, why there are so few films about classicists, or indeed, academics in general. Book-based research just isn't that interesting - it's a long, dull, internal process that doesn't come across very well on film. (Of course, Darwin did all sorts of exciting things in the course of his research which would have worked very well on film, but since the focus was on 1858-1859, when he was writing it all up, we didn't see much of that. I was disappointed - I wanted to see the turtles! Or were they tortoises...?) To make up for this, most of the film was about Darwin coming to terms with the death of his daughter, which was done very well (I sobbed most of the way through) but rather depressing. (Apparently there have been complaints about the film's use of her 'ghost', as Darwin didn't believe in ghosts - but this was, as Mark Kermode has emphatically pointed out, a dramatic device to enable Darwin to express his thoughts and feelings out loud, and as such, probably necessary).

There were a couple of great academic moments though. My panic when a book a bit similar to my thesis appeared last June seems totally inconsequential next to poor Darwin getting scooped after twenty years' work. He has a bit of a mad fit and starts destroying his pigeon house - I think a lot of frustrated academics can relate to that! His twenty years of work also puts my three into perspective (and I have the added bonus that no one is telling me that my thesis has 'killed God', which I would find rather upsetting!). His wife sits up all night reading his book, which is probably familiar to many relatives and friends who've slogged through really boring work proof-reading it, though she was lucky enough to have something pretty interesting to read.

All in all, I'd recommend the film, but take a big box of tissues, and if you know much about Darwin (which I don't) you should probably anticipate a lot of artistic licence. Oh, and the orang-utan is adorable.


  1. Note to self: Buy Juls indestructible dovecote for Xmas. (Bit prettier than a pigeon house, methinks.)

  2. I'm jealous!!! I have no idea when it will be hitting the screens in Belgium, but whenever it does I'll be there to see it! In my off hours I'm doing guided tours of a Darwin exhibit in the Zoology museum and Aquarium here! :p

    oh, and CONGRATULATIONS!!!! (for turning the thing in!)

  3. Poor old Darwin. He get's a terribly hard time. Now that his work is in the public domain many creationists re-release it with a "foreword". Nonsense.

    I hear this is a good one (the movie), so I'm looking forward to it.

    Also, congrats RE: the thesis finally being handed in.

  4. Oops! Should have gone to see that instead of 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' (3-D). Based on your review I'll rectify that mistake as soon as I've seen 'The Beaches of Agn├Ęs'... Congrats on finishing your thesis!

  5. Thank you! Oh dear, was Cloudy... bad? Ed and I thought it sounded a bit too odd for us!


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