Nova

Darwin's Darkest Hour

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This program tells the story of the extraordinary human drama that led to the birth of the most influential scientific theory of all time. Acclaimed screenwriter John Goldsmith brings to life Charles Darwin's greatest personal crisis: the anguishing decision over whether to "go public" with his theory of evolution. Darwin, portrayed by Henry Ian Cusick (Lost), spent years refining his ideas and penning his "Big Book," On the Origin of Species. 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 on the brink of publishing ideas very similar to his own. In a sickened panic, Darwin grasped his dilemma: To delay publishing any longer would be to condemn all of his work to obscurity -- his voyage on the Beagle, his adventures in the Andes, the gauchos and bizarre fossils of Patagonia, the finches and giant tortoises of the Galapagos. 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, who clung to a devout, orthodox view of creation. This program is a moving drama about the birth of a great idea seen through the inspiration and personal sufferings of its brilliant originator.

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