Darwin: A 1993 Film by Peter Greenaway

Although British direc­tor Peter Green­away is best known for fea­ture films like The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Pros­per­o’s Books, and The Pil­low Book, he has also com­plet­ed sev­er­al high­ly respect­ed projects for tele­vi­sion, includ­ing this 53-minute explo­ration of the life and work of Charles Dar­win. Dar­win is struc­tured around 18 sep­a­rate tableaux, each focus­ing on anoth­er chap­ter in the nat­u­ral­ist’s life, and each con­sist­ing of just one long unin­ter­rupt­ed shot. Oth­er than the nar­ra­tor’s voiceover, there is no dia­logue.

As with most Green­away films, the visu­al com­po­si­tion of indi­vid­ual scenes in Dar­win reflects the direc­tor’s fas­ci­na­tion with Renais­sance paint­ing (he was first trained as a mural­ist).  In 2006, Green­away even embarked on an ambi­tious series of video instal­la­tions called Nine Clas­sic Paint­ings Revis­it­ed, in which he applied his often con­tro­ver­sial vision to The Last Sup­perThe Wed­ding at Cana and oth­er famous art­works. You can watch an inter­view with the film­mak­er about The Last Sup­per here. Even bet­ter, watch his 2010 UC-Berke­ley lec­ture on the inspi­ra­tion and phi­los­o­phy behind the entire project, which we’ve includ­ed in our col­lec­tion of 275 Cul­tur­al Icons. We’ve also added Dar­win to our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

via Bib­liok­lept

Sheer­ly Avni is a San Fran­cis­co-based arts and cul­ture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Week­ly, Moth­er Jones, and many oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low her on twit­ter at @sheerly.

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Comments (11)
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  • Thanks, I was­n’t aware of this film.

    One minor point re. your com­men­tary: Dar­win nev­er received a knight­hood; he remained plain old Mr Charles Dar­win until the end of his days.

  • Sheerly says:

    Good catch, and thank you!

  • maxmaronna says:

    Your web­site is excel­lent. Thank you very much!

  • Bob Henry says:

    I love the clas­sics

  • I think every­thing said was very log­i­cal. How­ev­er, think
    about this, sup­pose you added a lit­tle infor­ma­tion? I mean,
    I don’t wish to tell you how to run your web­site, but sup­pose you added a post title that grabbed folk’s atten­tion?
    I mean Dar­win: A 1993 Film by Peter Green­away | Open Cul­ture is kin­da plain.

    You could glance at Yahoo’s front page and watch how they cre­ate news titles to get peo­ple inter­est­ed. You might add a relat­ed video or a relat­ed pic or two to get peo­ple inter­est­ed about every­thing’ve got to say.
    In my opin­ion, it would bring your web­site a lit­tle bit
    more inter­est­ing.

  • ameerbux murree from pakistan says:

    ur web­site is fan­tas­tic i cant express my thoughts about this web­site but plz add lat­est knowl­edge and movies…

  • Ashwin says:

    i was not able to watch the movie or down­load what can i do for that

  • Kerry Heseltine says:

    Hate to be a prude but this ver­sion of Dar­win is a bit stale to the taste and smell.
    One is always at a bet­ter course in life when one looks at the oth­er side of things. I rec­om­mend a great read by I. L. Cohen “Dar­win was wrong: A Study In Prob­a­bil­i­ties”

  • Roswitha Aziz says:

    I’m very impressed and would like to get more infor­ma­tions.

  • Erik says:

    Thanks for upload­ing this great piece of art. Unfor­tu­natel­ly such a poor qual­i­ty, I would rather pay for excel­lent qual­i­ty than watch this mivie in such a poor qual­i­ty.

  • R Johnsen says:

    I did not get far into this movie as it was a bit of non­sense right off the top. First­ly, Dar­win was set out to become a reli­gious man and had promised his father that that would be his goal in life and to have his own small church.
    He was, it seems,a very hard work­er and a good fam­i­ly man. I do believe the con­tro­ver­sy with the Church was over done in a lot of ‘fic­tions’ with respect to Dar­win.
    He had good friends among his peers and was, over­all, well regard­ed. Movies etc like to exag­ger­ate his opin­ions as being anti-church. But that is what makes movies enter­tain­ing.
    He was less a genius than a very hard work­er and a demon in con­tin­u­ing to work dili­gent­ly.
    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he had one bad result in believ­ing black peo­ple to be the less­er in the human scale. I believe he had not stud­ied well the the human con­di­tion but extrap­o­lat­ed from his oth­er involved stud­ies of life.

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