Since when does Hollywood shy away from controversy?
September 13, 2009 10:25 AM   Subscribe

The Producer Cites Religious Controversy. The Director points to a recessionary trend against "serious" movies. A new film about Charles Darwin's life ("Creation") is reportedly having difficulty finding a US distributor. ( Creation: IMDB / Official Site / Trailer / Spoiler-laden review from Roger Ebert / LA Times review // Darwin: Previously on MeFi).
posted by zarq (70 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd really love to believe this controversy is entirely manufactured by the producer. But considering the movie's content, it could be credible.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on September 13, 2009


Religulous seems to have been released without much controversy.
posted by PenDevil at 10:32 AM on September 13, 2009


I doubt even fundamentalists were able to take Religulous very seriously.
posted by Edwahd at 10:46 AM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a projector. I'll download the torrent. Anyone in America who wants to watch the film can come over my house and watch it. Bring beer.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:48 AM on September 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have a projector. I'll download the torrent.

Don't bother. I hear in the pirated version Darwin's cape won't spread and he just falls into a vat of poisoned gas again and again.

Actually, that could be interesting to watch...
posted by cyphill at 10:53 AM on September 13, 2009 [23 favorites]


Erm...I don't have any expertise in movie ticket sales, but isn't controversy an excellent ticket mover? If the crazies in the US lose their shit about it, isn't that just free publicity for the movie? Maybe only 39% of US citizens believe in evolution (yikes!), but if all of them go see the movie, that's a lot of people.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:04 AM on September 13, 2009


I think the biggest issue with getting this movie distributed is that it's probably not entertaining to stupid people.
Now if you do a re-write where Darwin spends a wild weekend in Vegas and meets a hooker with a heart of gold while being chased by gangsters, we'd be talking boffo box office.
posted by 2sheets at 11:05 AM on September 13, 2009


Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as "a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder". His "half-baked theory" directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to "atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering", the site stated.

I bet people who read that website they have to point to each word on the screen with their finger and sound out each syllable as they go.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:07 AM on September 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think the biggest issue with getting this movie distributed is that it's probably not entertaining to stupid people.

MOAR EXPLOSIONZ PLZ
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:07 AM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've heard, bar some decent acting by the lead, it's just not very good.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:16 AM on September 13, 2009


I think the biggest issue with getting this movie distributed is that it's probably not entertaining to stupid people.
Now if you do a re-write where Darwin spends a wild weekend in Vegas and meets a hooker with a heart of gold while being chased by gangsters, we'd be talking boffo box office.


Darwin was a scientist and shit, right? So brah, check it: He makes these robots. Giant motherfucking robots. And people are all like, yo Darwin you cannot do that. And Darwin is like awwwwww no, mo'fuckeys. Shit just got real. Because here come evil robots from space!!! Only one man's brilliant but misunderstood creations can stand against them! GIANT FUCKING COKE-EXPLOSION ROBOTS BOOM BOOM BOOM MEGAN FOX CO-STARS THAT FUCKING GUY FROM VAN WILDER IS

D@RW1N: 0RIGIN OF THE SPECIES HUGE FUCK YOU ROBOTS

7-4-10

THIS SUMMER, CLASS IS IN SESSION -- BITCH
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:16 AM on September 13, 2009 [23 favorites]


I seriously suspect this is just another case of manufactured controversy. From what I see, it looks like a fairly dry period piece that would normally just be played in independent theaters on a narrow release. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just probably not your standard multiplex fare. The producer probably hopes that people will get upset, and convince one big distribution company to pick it up for a wider release than it normally could have hoped.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:17 AM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh god, Kittens. GET OUT OF MY NIGHTMARES!!!
posted by HalfJack at 11:19 AM on September 13, 2009


Make the scientist an evil agent of conformity sucking the joy out of the world with his anti-magic rays and it'd be a hit!
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh god, Kittens. GET OUT OF MY NIGHTMARES!!!

(also, Ashton Kutcher would be in it as the "wacky" huge-fuck-you robot)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:22 AM on September 13, 2009


D@RW1N: 0RIGIN OF THE HUGE FUCK YOU ROBOTS

Hellz yes. My favorite part is when Darwin goes to the president and the president is revealed to be a robot from the future designed by Darwin programmed to help Darwin create the president robot and send it to the past and then there is a sex scene because the president is Scarlett Johansen and then there is an explosion and some shooting. Fuck yeah.
posted by fuq at 11:25 AM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Was that an Icon logo in front of the movie? That's Mel Gibson's production company, isn't it?
posted by empath at 11:26 AM on September 13, 2009


I hate having arguments about evolution with fundies. I spend 30 minutes explaining the various scientific disciplines that support evolution, how it's predictive as all good theories are, how there is evidence of evolution all around us, etc, etc, then I turn to the religious person and ask them to make their case, at which time they say: "Well, that's not what the Bible says." They stay in purposeful denial, willfully ignorant, unable or unwilling to even really LOOK at other possibilities, no matter how overwhelming and pervasive the supporting evidence may be.

Maybe I shouldn't judge though. If my father was also my uncle, and my sister was also my mother, I guess evolution wouldn't come easy to me either.
posted by jamstigator at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2009


Yeah, a scientific argument won't work, you need to make a theological argument.
posted by empath at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2009


PAUL WALKER, MARTIN LAWRENCE, JESSICA BIEL and SAMUEL L JACKSON as "Sarge"

in

DARWIN COPS 2

This summer, justice will evolve.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 11:31 AM on September 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've noticed a trend in entertainment these days, that when something doesn't sell under its own merits, it's pretty easy to start blaming others for your failure (pircacy, for example). If something is good, it will find an audience and make money, even if there's controvercy.

If this producer was right, he'd also have to explain how other movies that don't coincide wit the values of the regular churchgoer tend to make a nice profit in the U.S. If Hostel makes enough money to warrant a sequel, and Michael Moore is finding theater time, I'm pretty sure there would be an audience here for his movie, if it was good enough. I suspect that the movie just isn't that compelling to audiences for other reasons.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:35 AM on September 13, 2009


If Hostel makes enough money to warrant a sequel, and Michael Moore is finding theater time, I'm pretty sure there would be an audience here for his movie, if it was good enough. I suspect that the movie just isn't that compelling to audiences for other reasons.

It may just not be that compelling to theater-going audiences. Theatrical releases are usually attended by younger viewers, who are probably always going to be more interested in looking at Megan Fox's cleavage and dudes blowing shit up than they are a dude who lived a long time ago and wrote some shit down in some notebooks and had some existential crises and dull-ass crap like that. As much as I hate to admit it, nine times out of ten I'm more interested in Megan Fox's cleavage and dudes blowing shit up than I am a dude who, etc., at least if I'm going to see a movie as a social occasion. But the Darwin movie will, if it's actually a good film, probably be successful as a DVD release.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:42 AM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Was that an Icon logo in front of the movie? That's Mel Gibson's production company, isn't it?

Yes, Icon is the film's UK distributor. They have branches in the US, UK and Australia.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]




My girlfriend and I laughed uproariously at the trailer (very "My god Charles, you've killed God!!!") and I'm betting the movie will be fairly terrible but that is beside the point. I'm thrilled that screenwriters and movie producers view Darwin as a figure worthy of a feature film. But...

This is yet another warning (among sundry others) that [very basic] popular scientific education and appreciation in the US and some other nations that should know better (Canada, US, Turkey, etc.) is in utter crisis. I doubt anything specific in the trailer or movie itself set off alarm bells, rather it is the predictable, self-censoring nature of distributors and theater owners that is to fault here.

We can speak their language: why not call or write to let them know that this sort of filtration is not only unnecessary but will also cost them profit in the form of our patronage?
posted by inoculatedcities at 11:53 AM on September 13, 2009


The only truly necessary movies with Charles Darwin in them are The Fall and Young Einstein.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:00 PM on September 13, 2009


If you watch the original Planet of The Apes now you see that it's essentially about the conflict between empiricism ("holy shit, there's a talking man here!") and scientific curiosity ("why?") verus orthodoxy and entrenched beleif. SOmething you'd never see in a major motion picture today.

If you watch the remake it's about... well, I have no idea what the fuck it's about. But there's certainly a lot of whatever the fuck it is around these days.
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on September 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Erm...I don't have any expertise in movie ticket sales, but isn't controversy an excellent ticket mover?

Why do you think the producers are talking up how controversial the movie is?
posted by EarBucket at 12:39 PM on September 13, 2009


Interesting, Paul Bettany played a Darwin-like character in Master & Commander, no?
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 12:50 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Producer Cites Religious Controversy.

Having watched the trailer, I can think of several alternate hypotheses for why they don't have to beat off crowds of clamoring distributors, many of which involve the adjective "dreadful."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:53 PM on September 13, 2009


Yeah, the AVClub gave it a C after the Toronto Film Fest premiere:

...for the most part Creation is Biopic 101, earnest and over-explained. It’s the kind of movie in which characters have to tell each other how important what’s happening is, just in case we in the audience have never heard of The Origin Of The Species. It’s also the kind of movie that takes the life and work of a major historical figure and reduces it to something pathetically small—in this case Darwin’s relationship with his wife and kids...honestly, when you’re dealing with the man who helped change the way mankind sees its place in the universe, do you really want to watch him weeping over his sick daughter for an hour? I get what Creation’s trying to say in applying theories of adaptation on a personal level, but it still seems like a too-narrow lens through which to view an intellectual giant.

Variety didn't rave, either:

This handsome historical piece...isn't about science vs. faith so much as that well-worn dramatic hook, the loss of a child...

But despite that and pleasant (if modestly scaled) period trappings, "Creation" feels somewhat static in storytelling terms. Once basic conflicts are established, we simply wait for Darwin to come to terms with his grief, marriage and imminent notoriety. Not much "happens," though the pic does its best to maintain energy in both physical presentation and mixed-chronology structure.

Leads are also a little monotonous: Bettany is appealing but this Charles is at times nearly a sickly bore, while Connelly, not an actor with much lightness, is OK but emphasizes Emma's grave concern and disapproval to the exclusion of nearly every other quality. (The real Mrs. Darwin was a highly accomplished person in her own right.) In the weird tradition of so many real-life acting couples, onscreen these two stars don't have much chemistry.


So, probably a manufactured controversy to build support for an ok film that was heading for mediocre box office performance. Netflix, maybe.
posted by mediareport at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meh. It couldn't possibly compare to the The Life and Adventures of the Great Naturalist Charles Darwin.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2009


My girlfriend and I laughed uproariously at the trailer (very "My god Charles, you've killed God!!!") and I'm betting the movie will be fairly terrible but that is beside the point. I'm thrilled that screenwriters and movie producers view Darwin as a figure worthy of a feature film. But...

But it's a terrible, dull, portentous trailer. Agreed, Darwin is an interesting figure. But is he movie-interesting? Does spending decades chewing over the formation of a revolutionary theory make for a good feature film? This looks like another one of those worthy films, usually about English writers (see Beatrix Potter, JM Barrie, etc.), where they try and turn a solitary, steady and craftsman-like worklife - even if it had spectacular results - into a drama. What next, "The Passion of Gregor Mendel"?
posted by outlier at 1:12 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've also heard that it was a fairly dreary film.

And a small Canadian start-up was given the national distribution rights. Maybe this distributor really has the best people behind it and offers the best options. Or maybe our bigger players just weren't interested.
posted by maudlin at 1:19 PM on September 13, 2009


What next, "The Passion of Gregor Mendel"?

True story: After raising and assessing more than 29,000 pea plants, Gregor Mendel turned to honeybees. A hybrid strain he developed turned out to be so vicious it had to be destroyed.

There's a movie in there somewhere.....
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe I shouldn't judge though. If my father was also my uncle, and my sister was also my mother, I guess evolution wouldn't come easy to me either.

Do we really have to stoop to this level? Really?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why aren't there any good pro-science movies coming out? I dragged my whole family to see The Golden Compass when it came out so we could go and support Atheism at the box office, and look what happened with that.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:49 PM on September 13, 2009


This isn't to disparage the content of the movie, but the movie does strike me as a topic that works best for PBS or a network miniseries than wide scale movie distribution, in terms of audience interest.

But the Darwin movie will, if it's actually a good film, probably be successful as a DVD release.

And this too.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:59 PM on September 13, 2009


Of course it kinda sucks. It's a biopic that isn't about drug addiction or insanity. If it weren't for those two things biographical movies could hardly be made at all.
posted by wobh at 2:06 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


it should've been about him being a young, carefree, drinking-pub-hobbit-pre-ring lad type and then getting roped into a dreary trip to escape his sorrow at losing his girl to a more serious type, and then going to that one island and seeing some crazy huge turtles, and then coming back and giving an impressive speech that both wins him the girl and scientific accolades, maybe Queen Somebody played by a Dame could have a private audience with him and secretly fund his subversive science.

That would be a great movie. Now I just gotta polish this and send it to that guy who wrote A History of Violence!
posted by kathrineg at 2:22 PM on September 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


If it weren't for those two things biographical movies could hardly be made at all.

Hrm. I can think of a ton of very popular movies based on the lives or singular acts of real people that weren't based on either of those things. Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi, Glory, Schindler's List, Patton, Good Night and Good Luck, Madame Curie, Erin Brockovich, Capote...
posted by zarq at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2009


As a Victorianist, my immediate response to this trailer went like this: "So...they're going to take twenty-first century reactions to Darwin and transpose them to the 19th century? Awesome! Er, not." I mean, it's obviously too much to expect a biopic to examine the geological, biological, and philosophical responses to Darwin's work, let alone the phenomenon of Christians who had few to no objections to it--e.g., the odd couple of John Henry Newman and Charles Kingsley--but "God's dead! w00t!" is the dead-end caricature of current "debates." (Nearly sixty years ago, Allvar Ellegard detailed the range of critical reactions in a book reprinted in 1990.) If the trailer is to be trusted, they're also over-hyping the extent of the conflict between CD and his wife over his work (which did exist, but appears to have been relatively muted; mostly, she did her best to be a cheerleader).

And, yes, it looked tedious. Oh, well. I'll see it if it ever comes out on video.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:41 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's an educational documentary. Traditionally those don't do well in entertainment film multiplexes. The only one I can think of right now is March of the Penguins. The successes of An Inconvenient Truth, Michael Moore's various films, and Expelled (Ben Stein's creationist thing) are driven by political interest in the topic, ie people who know about and agree with the information presented will go and will urge their friends to go. And frankly from that perspective this film just doesn't sound controversial or compelling enough.

It will end up as one of those interminable filler documentaries that get played on documentary channels; possibly in educational display marquees that show Darwin's life and work, if the show organizer for whatever reason actually liked it. Copies can almost certainly be sold to the libraries of high schools, maybe even universities, where they will languish without student checkouts (except for those students whose assignments are due next day and in panic checkout whatever semi-relevant material hasn't already been snatched up). Its natural home is on Google Video.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:02 PM on September 13, 2009


Um... i really don't think that you can call a biopic about Darwin a "documentary" by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps cameras existed during his lifetime, but I can pretty much bet that there will be zero part of this film which was actually filmed during Darwin's lifetime. All the other films you mention are documentaries, but biopics generally do NOT fall in the same category.

And if you haven't seen Hoop Dreams yet, you really need to. It sort of defined "excellent documentary" in my mind for many years, and still is at the top of the heap.
posted by hippybear at 3:10 PM on September 13, 2009


Fair enough, I stand corrected.

Would a film about, say, Leonardo da Vinci that only casually mentions anything about his personal life, makes extensive use of filming his written/drawn work, a lot of use of real and CGI models of his machines, and a bit of use of actors playing him and individuals who interacted with him (always nearly-silent, behind the narrator voice) be classified as a biopic or documentary?

Are Public Enemies and Blow biopics, even when lightly fictionalized? I suppose looking at Creation as a member of that same category makes it even more likely that it was dropped because it was boring rather than due to controversy. Certainly neither of the Johnny Depp films were boring.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:23 PM on September 13, 2009


FWIW, Public Enemies was *very* heavily fictionalized.
posted by mediareport at 3:32 PM on September 13, 2009


Well, the dictionary in my Macintosh says that a documentary uses "pictures or interviews with people involved in real events to provide a factual report or record."

Ken Burns' work for PBS qualifies as documentary because it never seeks to have anyone portrayed on screen which is not actually a film of that person. It makes clear that words of letters or speeches which are quoted are being read by actors, and seeks to create context using photographs and modern recordings of music which reproduces, as best as possible, what was being heard at the time.

As soon as you have actors pretending to be people, you might have a historical reenactment or something like that, but you've stopped being a documentary. Add in some CGI and you're really stepping away from anything real and into the realm of pure artistry, even if that artistry is somehow based on reality.

I cannot speak to the veracity or classification of movies such as Public Enemies or Blow, because I am not familiar enough with either the source historical figures used to inspire the films, or the films themselves. I would venture to say, if you have Depp pretending to be someone, it's not a documentary. It could be a biopic, but the difference between biopic and "inspired by true events" can be as simple as a shift in tone or focus or intent.

There are some pretty non-factual biopics which are produced. Hollywood was pretty notorious in the 30s and 40s for making movies like The Glen Miller Story or the biopic about Edison and such which give a huge gloss over the top of a basic biographical story. I would call those biopics, even though the historical record pretty much refutes a lot of what has been written for the screen.
posted by hippybear at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2009


Why aren't there any good pro-science movies coming out? I dragged my whole family to see The Golden Compass when it came out so we could go and support Atheism at the box office, and look what happened with that.

Jon_Evil , What DID happen with that? I heard fundies got pissed, but i heard it sold at least okay in the US.....

Maybe I shouldn't judge though. If my father was also my uncle, and my sister was also my mother, I guess evolution wouldn't come easy to me either.

jamstigator
, I know how you feel. I grew up in the deep south, where i was beaten up on a couple of occasions for having evolutionary biologist parents. But we cant say that shit. If we truly want the fundies to learn from us, and listen to our arguments, we have to treat them (at lest on a one-on-one basis) with the UTMOST repsect.

Remeber, Most of these people are clinging to their world view out of a combination of 1. ignorance and 2. a festering inferiority complex ABOUT that ignorance. The more we flaunt our education and economic status (which is largely an accident of birth) the more theyll HATE us for knowing more than they do. If we are to EVER get the fundies to grow into an understanding of the divide between literal and spritual truth (and thus, not be fundies anymore), that last little jab is *exactly* the sort of thing we cannot afford to do. Ever.
posted by HalfJack at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would a film about, say, Leonardo da Vinci that only casually mentions anything about his personal life, makes extensive use of filming his written/drawn work, a lot of use of real and CGI models of his machines, and a bit of use of actors playing him and individuals who interacted with him (always nearly-silent, behind the narrator voice) be classified as a biopic or documentary?

Biopics are intentional dramatizations. Documentaries are an attempt to "document" reality. The events that occur within a documentary are unscripted and not portrayed by actors. QED, the movie you describe above is a biopic.

Remove the actors and you could have a documentary.
posted by zarq at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2009


(Case in point, the movie Gettysburg was NOT a documentary.)
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on September 13, 2009


it should've been about him being a young, carefree, drinking-pub-hobbit-pre-ring lad type and then getting roped into a dreary trip to escape his sorrow at losing his girl to a more serious type, and then going to that one island and seeing some crazy huge turtles, and then coming back and giving an impressive speech that both wins him the girl and scientific accolades, maybe Queen Somebody played by a Dame could have a private audience with him and secretly fund his subversive science.

Young Darwin In Love? Brilliant. The more serious type would have to be a uptight Clergyman (Ooooh! So that's why he hates God!) with better prospects than Darwin's broke-arse science career. There's a beautiful native girl on the Galapogos who teaches him to believe in himself and though they get intimate it can never really work because she doesn't speak british. There's the hilarious odd couple of a turtle and a finch who are best friends and cause comic havoc on the ship for some reason, and finally Darwin has to race back to Blighty in time for the big lecture, and the object of his desire and clergy guy and her dad are all in the front row because her rich dad is a patron and Darwin turns up at the last minute, when everyone is looking at their pocket watches and murmuring, and he's all rakishly dishevelled and maybe he has a fish in his pocket and he starts speaking but he's nervous, but he makes a charming joke and the audience starts to warm to him and then he's off - showing how evolution is really like love, how you have to come through the fires of natural selection to be the best you can be in wheverer you are and how the single most important act you can perform is to help your species refine itself with the person you consider most perfect and she's almost convinced by his newfound fire and passion, but the Clergyman/fiance stands up and accuses him of killing God - but Darwin's best mate (the first mate from the ship, who I forgot to mention earlier), shows up in the lecture hall and it's revealed that he and the Clergyman are lovers, so her dad punches gay clergy guy on the nose and makes him speak with a funny nasal whine, and everyone is in an uproar and Darwin leaps off the stage amidst all the tumultuousness and gets on one knee and proposes. She accepts and they kiss and then God smites them all with bears.
posted by Sparx at 3:47 PM on September 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


Thank you, kittens for breakfast, for introducing me to the term "mo'fuckey".
posted by A dead Quaker at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2009


some please make this movie.
posted by empath at 3:49 PM on September 13, 2009


This film is the first non-Canadian film to open the TIFF, and one could easily assume (as I did) that whoever made that call did so only out of crass controversy=publicity motivations.

So, to count them up, that's a Fuck You to Canadian film, a Fuck You to TIFF traditions, a Fuck You to good film, and a Fuck You to ticket buyers. I'm probably leaving something out.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:24 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jon_Evil , What DID happen with [THE GOLDEN COMPASS]? I heard fundies got pissed, but i heard it sold at least okay in the US.....

Simple -- the film sucked.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:06 PM on September 13, 2009


Maybe I shouldn't judge though. If my father was also my uncle, and my sister was also my mother, I guess evolution wouldn't come easy to me either.

LOL. Man, that is cold.
posted by notreally at 5:12 PM on September 13, 2009


If my father was also my uncle, and my sister was also my mother, I guess evolution wouldn't come easy to me either.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:53 PM on September 13, 2009


If my father was also my uncle, and my sister was also my mother, I guess evolution wouldn't come easy to me either.

I don't know. That seems to be how we've had a lot of success with breeding various sorts of canines. You select for the traits you want, breed pup to mother...

Oh wait. You were making an insult, not actually talking genetic evolution.
posted by hippybear at 7:31 PM on September 13, 2009



Would a film about, say, Leonardo da Vinci that only casually mentions anything about his personal life, makes extensive use of filming his written/drawn work, a lot of use of real and CGI models of his machines, and a bit of use of actors playing him and individuals who interacted with him (always nearly-silent, behind the narrator voice) be classified as a biopic or documentary?

Biopics are intentional dramatizations. Documentaries are an attempt to "document" reality. The events that occur within a documentary are unscripted and not portrayed by actors. QED, the movie you describe above is a biopic.


It's a little more complex than that. According to your overly narrow definition, The Thin Blue Line wasn't a documentary. You should inform the International Documentary Association.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:40 PM on September 13, 2009


Don't bother. I hear in the pirated version Darwin's cape won't spread and he just falls into a vat of poisoned gas again and again.

Actually, in the pirated version Darwin's theory never takes hold and you wind up the the lunatics running the asylum. Also I can't find the last set of teeth in the Mansion. You might call this my own personal "missing link".
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:48 PM on September 13, 2009


Make the scientist an evil agent of conformity....

You know, I think that one is going to be a tough sell to anyone who knows a scientist.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:32 PM on September 13, 2009


"If something is good, it will find an audience and make money, even if there's controvercy"(sic)

Oh, if only that were true. These days margins are so tight for smaller distributors that they really only take a risk with films that have names attached. I've seen some really good good films that will sadly never see the light of day (or at least never get the chance in front of a paying audience) because they just don't star anyone you've really heard of and distributors just won't take the risk. How much of a name they think Betany and Conelly are I just don't know. It sucks that that's the way they see things, but right now that is very much the way they see them (cue someone bringing up Slumdog or whatever other film proves to be the exception).

As for what happened to the Golden Compass, it took pretty good money internationally and so so money in the US. the trouble was that the way New Line used to raise their finaces was to pre-sell all the foreign rights in advance, so none of it's international success made it back to them and the US money in no way covered the print and advertising needed. That's why New Line went down the pan, and with it probably the chances of ever seeing the rest of the Pullman books on the big screen.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:37 AM on September 14, 2009


The silver cord between the movie and anything that would have made it at all interesting to anyone was cut.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on September 14, 2009


If we truly want the fundies to learn from us, and listen to our arguments, we have to treat them (at lest on a one-on-one basis) with the UTMOST repsect.

I can do that. It's when they demand respect that I start pointing and laughing.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:28 AM on September 14, 2009


(UK channel 4 news tonight reported that the film had found a US distributor, but didn't mention who)
posted by ciderwoman at 12:04 PM on September 14, 2009


Rats. I was all ready to explode in self-righteous anger at all those right wing idiots. Now I'm leaning towards "manufactured controversy over a sub-par biopic." Damn you Metafilter. You take the fun out of everything!
posted by kanewai at 1:10 PM on September 14, 2009


In support of the "not a religious issue" notion, the NYT reported Monday that "the vast majority of more than 140 films that showed up in search of American distribution" at the Toronto Film Festival, including "Get Low" with Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, are having a hard time finding a US distributor.
posted by mediareport at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2009


I read about this in a thread on a Japanese forum. The responses consisted pretty much entirely of "What the fuck is wrong with America? Seriously." "What are they, kindergartners?" "These are the guys with the nukes?" and the like.
posted by Bugbread at 7:31 AM on September 16, 2009






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