Of all the posts I saw float around Tumblr this past week celebrating Charles Darwin’s birthday and ‘Darwin Day’, none recommended any documentary films on the man (except for this one).
So, here’s how you can continue the celebration: educate yourself about Darwin through the resources below, and enjoy the beautiful list of documentaries and films that follow…
• Read On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin or go to LibriVox to download the audiobook for free!
• PBS.org has a plethora of information regarding evolution, science, and Charles Darwin. Their evolution site has specific sections about Darwin, change, extinction, survival, and more.
• The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online has drawings, journal entries, and more fun, visual resources.
• The National Center for Science Education has advice and resources to help you promote and understand evolution. Check their Taking Action page.
• Visit the Center For Inquiry’s resources on Darwin, where you’ll find information, event ideas, merchandise, and Darwin Day promotional posters/media (example: Facebook covers, PDF’s, event invites)
Darwin’s Struggle: The Evolution Of The Origin Of Species [1 hour]
Documentary telling the little-known story of how Darwin came to write his great masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, a book which explains the wonderful variety of the natural world as emerging out of death and the struggle of life.
In the twenty years he took to develop a brilliant idea into a revolutionary book, Darwin went through a personal struggle every bit as turbulent as that of the natural world he observed. Fortunately, he left us an extraordinary record of his brilliant insights, observations of nature, and touching expressions of love and affection for those around him. He also wrote frank accounts of family tragedies, physical illnesses and moments of self-doubt, as he labored towards publication of the book that would change the way we see the world.
The story is told with the benefit of Darwin’s secret notes and correspondence, enhanced by natural history filming, powerful imagery from the time and contributions from leading contemporary biographers and scientists. [source]
Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life (1 hour)
David Attenborough asks three key questions: how and why did Darwin come up with his theory of evolution? Why do we think he was right? And why is it more important now than ever before?
David starts his journey in Darwin’s home at Down House in Kent, where Darwin worried and puzzled over the origins of life. He goes back to his roots in Leicestershire, where he hunted for fossils as a child and where another schoolboy unearthed a significant find in the 1950s, and he revisits Cambridge University, where both he and Darwin studied and where many years later the DNA double helix was discovered, providing the foundations for genetics.
At the end of his journey in the Natural History Museum in London, David concludes that Darwin’s great insight revolutionised the way in which we see the world. We now understand why there are so many different species, and why they are distributed in the way they are. But above all, Darwin has shown us that we are not set apart from the natural world, and do not have dominion over it. We are subject to its laws and processes, as are all other animals on earth to which, indeed, we are related. [source]
The Genius of Charles Darwin (2 hours 23 minutes; 3 episodes)
In this fascinating Channel Four series Richard Dawkins, best selling author of The God Delusion, explains the theory of evolution and its contribution to our understanding of life on Earth.
Charles Darwin’s insight into how life evolved, published in 1859 as the ‘Origin of Species’, has been the subject of debate ever since, even as every detail of the fossil record provides increasing evidence for Darwin’s ideas. The theory of evolution has frequently been misunderstood, or misinterpreted to justify racialist attitudes.
Richard Dawkins considers the moral questions raised by the theory of evolution and argues that selfless behavior and altruism are an essential strategy for human survival and part of evolution itself. This series is essential viewing for fans of Richard Dawkins and anyone who wishes to understand Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. [source]
Evolution: What Darwin Never Knew (1 hour 52 minutes)
Earth teems with a staggering variety of animals, including 9,000 kinds of birds, 28,000 types of fish, and more than 350,000 species of beetles. What explains this explosion of living creatures—1.4 million different species discovered so far, with perhaps another 50 million to go? The source of life’s endless forms was a profound mystery until Charles Darwin brought forth his revolutionary idea of natural selection. But Darwin’s radical insights raised as many questions as they answered. What actually drives evolution and turns one species into another? To what degree do different animals rely on the same genetic toolkit? And how did we evolve?
"What Darwin Never Knew" offers answers to riddles that Darwin couldn’t explain. Breakthroughs in a brand-new science—nicknamed "evo devo"—are linking the enigmas of evolution to another of nature’s great mysteries, the development of the embryo. NOVA takes viewers on a journey from the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic, and from the explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today. Scientists are finally beginning to crack nature’s biggest secrets at the genetic level. The results are confirming the brilliance of Darwin’s insights while revealing clues to life’s breathtaking diversity in ways the great naturalist could scarcely have imagined. [source]
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (2 hours)
Andrew Marr explores how Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has taken on a life of its own far beyond the world of science. In the first episode of the three-part series, he argues that Darwin’s theory has transformed our understanding of what it means to be human. Over the last 150 years, Darwin’s ideas have challenged the need for a creator, undermined religious authority, and provided new ways of looking at the origins of human morality.
Andrew Marr discovers something surprising about his own evolutionary history as this epic series continues with an exploration of Darwin’s impact on politics and society. Under the banner of Survival of the Fittest, Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been used to justify imperial expansion and the oppression of indigenous peoples; to inform the science of eugenics - the selective breeding of humans which was implemented in the United States in the early 20th century; and to provide a veneer of scientific respectability to Nazi plans to create an Aryan master race. It was also used quite explicitly to explain the twisted logic of the final solution.
In the final episode of this ground-breaking series about Charles Darwin’s legacy, Andrew Marr discovers how Darwin’s ideas are helping us to save ourselves and all life on earth from extinction. Marr argues that Charles Darwin is the father of ecology. The modern environmental movement was built upon his insight that all life on earth is linked by a delicate web of connections. He also discovers that Darwin’s dangerous idea is inspiring scientists to create a ‘flotilla of Darwinian Noah’s Arks’ to help save life on earth from disaster. [source]
The Voyage of Charles Darwin (1 hour/each; 7 episodes)
The 1978 7-part BBC series starring Malcolm Stoddard as Darwin, and Andrew Burt as Captain FitzRoy. Shot on location around the world using a sailing vessel similar in style to the Beagle.
Darwin’s Darkest Hour (1 hour 42 minutes)
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. [source]
Creation (1 hour 48 minutes)
Based on “Annie’s Box,” — a biography penned by Charles Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes, using personal letters and diaries of the Darwin family— “Creation" takes a unique and inside look at Darwin, his family and his love for his deeply religious wife, Torn between faith and science, Darwin struggles to finish his legendary book "On the Origin of Species," which goes on to become the foundation for evolutionary biology. [source]
The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (88 minutes)
In The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain is joined by a rag-tag crew. With seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they do battle with the pirate-hating Queen Victoria and team up with a young Charles Darwin, but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure! [source]
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."
- Charles Darwin