Creation (2009) – The Burden of the Mundane

One of the great tragedies of the cult of the director as author is the extent to which it failed to take root in television.  Even now, if you listen to commentary tracks for BBC DVDs you will find people talking about writers and producers.  Never directors.  In the world of television, directors are still seen in the way that they were in the wider cinematic world prior to the rise of the French New Wave : As a cadre of technical and logistical professionals whose creative impact is actually minimal.  Even television programmes that are ostensibly visual are frequently associated more with their presenters than their directors.  David Attenborough, for example, has made a career out of taking credit for the images captured by others.  Another such injustice is Jon Amiel’s direction of Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective (1986).  As director, Amiel transformed Potter’s ontologically complex blend of memory, reality and fantasy into a television series that was not only coherent but a classic.  Sadly, the two and a bit decades since The Singing Detective have not been kind to Amiel with his time having been spent on a number of instantly forgettable television adaptations and second rate genre films.  However, Creation, the story of Charles Darwin’s struggle to write On the Origin of Species (1859), marks a real return to form.  It is just unfortunate that only half the film works.

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