The series encompasses Darwin's university days to the 1859 publication of his book "On the Origin of Species" and his death and is based on Darwin's own letters, diaries, and journals, ... See full summary »
| Scientifically fascinating documentary series - easily the best ever made
The Voyage of Charles Darwin (1978) is the best documentary series I have ever seen:- it is academic and is directed with adventurism and pure enterprise. It combines stolid B.B.C. empiricist/commonsense production values with metaphysical even Nietzschean undertones. The graceful young English actor Malcolm Stoddard is very impressive - in appearance he is gaunt and slightly Chaucerian. The natural wonders of Latin America and the Galapagos Islands are beautifully recorded by the B.B.C. camera unit ranging from rheas on the Argentinian pampas to manta rays in the Pacific Ocean. The urban aesthetics of Cambridge, Salvador and Rio in Brazil and Valparaiso in Chile are very well photographed as well. Darwin's encounter with the caudillo-figure General Rosas on the pampas reveal Darwin's fears of genocide a propos of Rosas' war against the indians. Repeateded at Christmas 1995 and produced at a time when the B.B.C. showed subtlety and purpose and could conjure higher classical things with good taste and a sense of transcendent significance this documentary series shows how manifold and original '70s television could be and is inspiring in these dumbed down and superficial times. Especially worth mentioning is the very adventurous adventure film The Darwin Adventure ('71-72) starring young handsome English actor Nicholas Clay, Ian Richardson, Tony Robinson (Time Team), Christopher Martin and Rollo Gamble and directed by US director Jack Couffer. Photographed in organic and subtle pastel colours by Denys Coop and in scattered and diverse locations including Barro Colorado Island Panama, The Monkey Jungle in Miami, Kenya, the Galapagos Islands, the Falkland Islands, the Amazon Delta, Spain and Kenya between 1968 and 1971 - the early-'70s were pioneering years. The Observer's Philip French described it as 'breathtaking' back in 2009.