October 1, 2008

A Natural Selection for Film on Darwin

By Jenny Stocks

Film stars will descend on a Cornish fishing village this week to shoot the story of Charles Darwin's life.

Charlestown, on the south coast of Cornwall near St Austell, will provide one of the locations for the film Creation, which follows the life of the English naturalist.

Shooting is due to take place tomorrow, Friday and Sunday.

The film is based on Annie's Box, a book by Darwin's great-great- grandson Randal Keynes. It will be released next year to tie in with the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and 150 years since his landmark book, On the Origin of Species, was published.

A Recorded Picture Company production, Creation was co-developed with BBC Films and the UK Film Council.

Rachel Kennedy, unit publicist for Creation, said: "We are spending some time filming in North Cornwall as the unusual coastal landscape lends itself particularly well to some scenes in the film, as does Charlestown harbour."

The coastal village of Charlestown, built in 1801, was perfectly suited as it is an unspoilt port with a harbour full of square- riggers.

Other locations include Bude beach, where filming was taking place last Friday.

Charles Darwin himself was no stranger to the Westcountry. When he was 22, he lived in Plymouth for two months before setting sail on his five-year voyage on the Beagle.

He finally left Devonport Dockyard on December 27, 1831, only returning to Falmouth harbour on October 2, 1836. The trip was full of important discoveries, as Darwin collected thousands of fossils, plants and animals previously unseen by his contemporaries at home.

The film is described by the studio as "part ghost story, part psychological thriller, part heart-wrenching love story". It is the story of Darwin's struggle between his wife's religious views and his desire to write a book that went against everything she believed.

Darwin and his wife Emma are set to be played by real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly, who met on the set of 2001's Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind.

It was rumoured that their roles would be taken over by Ralph Fiennes' younger brother, Joseph, and former Bond girl Rosamund Pike, but the studio dismissed this as untrue.

English actors Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch will also be featured in the film.

John Kneale, owner of Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, said that local businesses and residents received letters in advance to warn them that the production was coming.

"We've always found film companies very helpful - they always ask us for any comments. If you lose any trade, they are willing to help out. I can't see any disruption to our business.

"There might be some in Quay Road, as that is where the vans will park."

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of South West Tourism, said that films shot in Cornwall had already had a positive effect on tourism for the area. "The first effect is the hotel rooms taken up by crew - that should not be underestimated as they spend a lot of money.

"The second effect is when people can identify the areas if a lot is showcased - like the panoramic views shown in TV's Doc Martin."

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.