It’s at times like this that I’m proud to call myself Canadian. Earlier this month, Creation, a British biopic about the life of Charles Darwin, premiered in my hometown, and scored the opening spot at our Toronto International Film Festival, an achievement film buffs consider to be a key benchmark on the road to the Oscars.
But you’re not going to be seeing it in the U.S. The producer, Jeremy Thomas, remains unable to secure a deal with any U.S distributors. And he says he knows why — religion. Thomas is quick to blame an outdated adherence to biblical creationism to explain the lack of American interest.
It has since been picked from Australia to Scandinavia and has been met with predominantly positive reviews — but here in America, you won’t get the opportunity to judge the film for yourself.
In an interview with UK newspaper The Telegraph Thomas says, “It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the U.S., and it’s because of what the film is about.” He continues to say that in America, “there is still a great belief that He made the world in six days…. Outside of New York and LA, religion rules.”
Professor Jo Caplin, an Emmy Award-winning news producer, judges the situation a little more critically and provides an alternative explanation.
“If the Darwin film was not picked up for distribution in the States, I suspect that there might be something wrong with the film, not the audiences here,” she said.
“There are always ‘small, lovely films’ that get picked up, but do not have wide distribution. So I suspect the producer, feelings hurt that Creation was not picked up here, blamed it on the audiences.”
She references Contact, a big-screen flick that grapples with the arguments of faith vs. reason, noting that “it held together quite well.” To Caplin, this shows that American audiences can deal with the subject matter.
Nevertheless, whether the source behind distributors’ snub of Creation is the contentious subject matter, or the quality of the film itself, this controversy does reinforce some shocking news regarding acceptance of evolution in the United States.
A recent Gallup poll shows that fewer than 4 in 10 Americans accept evolutionary theory. As one who puts immeasurable value in stimulating interest in science, I feel this statistic makes movies like Creation all the more important.
This number left me absolutely dumbfounded. In this day and age, I was under the impression that biblical creationism was a belief still held only by religious fanatics and uneducated hillbillies, not the majority of Americans.
The “Theory” of Evolution is essentially fact. It has scientific support comparable to the support for the Theory of Gravity or the theory that the earth is round, according to Penn professor David White.
While it’s worth mentioning that the percentage of believers increases with education, on the whole the number of us that accept the facts remains shockingly low.
Looking around Penn, I like to think that we are an exception to the national average, especially in light of last year’s school-wide festivities celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. From simply talking to my peers, I’m confident that more than 40 percent get it.
If religion is your thing, that’s more than fine by me — a belief in God doesn’t preclude the acceptance of evolution. In 1996 even Pope John Paul II supported evolutionary theory, explaining it was compatible with the teachings of the Church.
This is where we get into the mucky waters of Intelligent Design. Nobody can say for certain that God didn’t play a role in putting evolution into action. But Caplin put it bluntly: “The cavemen did not ride dinosaurs.”
To the 61 percent of Americans who don’t believe in evolution: please, get with the program. That number alone is reason enough to show this film in the U.S.
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