Darwin's theory of distribution

460px-Anniegrave How come almost no one has picked up on this story?

You may have heard of the new Paul Bettany-Jennifer Connelly movie about the life of Charles Darwin.

But if stories coming out of Britain are to be believed, you aren't likely to be seeing "Creation" here. "A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer," reads the headline of a story on the Telegraph.co.uk website. Though this story is racing through the blogosphere, it's getting very little attention from the mainstream on this side of the Atlantic. And where it is covered in Britain, the story is not being covered by religion reporters, though it's clearly a story about religion as well as about moviemaking and business.

And yet the issues seem important enough to merit coverage, not so much because of the merits of the well-reviewed film itself (though it seems like it would play well in art houses), but because of what it says about the state of play with regard to belief and evolution in America. Not to mention how the movie portrays the really quick complex beliefs of Charles Darwin. In other words, this movie spotlights one of our bread-and-butter religious issues, a hardy perennial.

Here's the lede from the Telegraph article:

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

There's something odd going on here. Not only do we create slasher movies and highly sexually explicit films in the United States, but we import them. Are we really expected to believe that evolution is such a cultural taboo that a movie about Charles Darwin would be "too controversial?" Why don't they find out by talking to a real life American instead of only quoting from blogs? the only person quoted in the Telegraph article is the movie's producer -- and he might have a wee bit of bias.

It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There's still a great belief that He made the world in six days. It's quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.

My goodness, look at the natives and their strange customs. Let me take you to the next room, where we see some shrunken heads.

And yet, in spite of the fact that evolution is taught in American public schools, it faces deep-rooted resistance. Most of us, apparently, just aren't buying. That's a fact -- and a good context for an article on "Creation." It's almost irrelevant that this kind of journalism plays into all sorts of cultural stereotypes about Europeans and Americans. What's important is seeking out the facts, and getting a range of opinions to illuminate them.

Photo of Annie Darwin's grave from Wikimedia Commons: "A dear and good child"

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