Review of Darwin: The Voyage that Shook the World

I’ve watched this documentary on three separate occasions and thought it was about time to write up a review. The film was created in response to the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of his book, The Origin of Species.

The film explores Darwin’s childhood, as well as his personal and historical background, and then follows his adventures on the HMS Beagle and the transformation that occurs as he abandons his religious beliefs in favor of evolution. Darwin is called an enigma, but the film does a fine job bringing to light what we’ve discovered about this man, as well as those who influenced him, inspired him, and changed him.


Some of those influences include the Unitarian Church and the Church of England. Darwin, in fact, was educated as a clergyman, but the film follows the various events that lead to his abandoning his religious beliefs and God. He was also influenced by his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who was a freethinking, rationalist humanist who challenged the conventional thought on philosophy, politics, religion and science. Charles Lyell, a lawyer and leading geologist of his day, was another influential figure who intended to “free science from Moses” with his uniformitarian views.

Ultimately Darwin, following his voyage on the HMS Beagle and a visit to the Galapagos Islands, develops the theory of evolution and writes his book, On the Origin of Species. The film shows how these ideas contributed to unscientific racist views, and how Darwin ignored evidence that would have contradicted his own evolutionary and uniformitarian beliefs. In addition the film presents evidence for a young earth, explores the difficulties and problems associated with evolution, explains the underlying religious faith behind evolution, and shows how evolution isn’t about science, but is more about God and his existence.

This 52 minute documentary includes spectacular images of wildlife, re-enactments, and interviews with many experts from around the world. I enjoyed the content of the film, as it packs a lot of information into a short time-frame, but it’s not an overly “entertaining” film. I’ve shown the film to junior high students over several sittings, but it’s not the type of film that will keep your attention unless you enjoy being educated and learning. This is a very good educational documentary, and it provides great detail and insight into the understanding of this historical figure. I encourage you to watch it if you’re curious to learn more about Charles Darwin and the major influence he’s had on the world.


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