Darwin’s Darkest Hour (NOVA special)
Watch Video: pbs.org
This two-hour scripted drama tells the remarkable story behind the unveiling of the most influential scientific theory of all time, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The program is a special presentation from NOVA and National Geographic Television, written by acclaimed British screenwriter John Goldsmith and directed by John Bradshaw.
Darwin, portrayed by Henry Ian Cusick (Lost), spent years refining his ideas and penning what he called his “big book.” Yet, daunted by looming conflict with the orthodox religious values of his day, he resisted publishing–until a letter from naturalist Alfred Wallace forced his hand. In 1858, Darwin learned that Wallace was ready to publish ideas very similar to his own. In a sickened panic, Darwin grasped his dilemma: To delay publishing any longer would be to condemn his greatest work to obscurity–the brilliant argument he had pieced together with clues from his voyage on the Beagle, his adventures in the Andes, the bizarre fossils of Patagonia, the finches and giant tortoises of the Galapagos, as well as the British countryside. But to come forward with his ideas risked the fury of the Church and perhaps a rift with his own devoted wife, Emma, portrayed by Frances O’Connor (Mansfield Park, The Importance of Being Earnest), who was a devout Christian.
“Darwin’s Darkest Hour” is a moving drama about the genesis of a groundbreaking theory seen through the inspiration and personal sufferings of its originator.