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Short Film Review: Reverse Darwinism


Poster of the short film Reverse Darwinism with picture of Kathryn Hanke as Professor Vanessa

You may have heard of reverse psychology but how about reverse Darwinism? This is what Professor Vanessa is hellbent to preach about in this new short film. Directed by Dermot Daly and Ivan Mack, Reverse Darwinism is a unique take on faith and identity. At first glance the film resembles early, homemade YouTube educational videos. There is a classroom notepad with the words NATURAL DESELECTION written on it. When Professor Vanessa walks into this bunker-like room in the basement soon you realise she is not your everyday science teacher. Professor Vanessa is neurotic, driven, angry. Starting from the hypothesis that evolution may inadvertently lead to the demise of a species, Professor Vanessa launches into a long rant against café-goers. The monologue is underlined by a Nietzschean misguided understanding of evolution. The view erroneously perceives evolution from an anthropocentric perspective and does not see the demise of its own species as a form of selection on an interconnected, larger scale of life, but as a DEselection. Vanessa’s self-aggrandizing and self-centred views are foregrounded very aptly by the images in the background: one photograph is Darwin and Vanessa; the other one the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawkins and the Pope, with the cut-out of Vanessa’s face badly stuck on the Pope's head. I found the film to be a nice dig at the large-scale narcissism and anthropocentrism that have been normalised with the help of social media bots and the surge of white masculinist politics, by presenting Vanessa as an accessible, common personality too familiar these days—one who is loudly [over-]indulging in her own politics of identity shaped by ill-informed science and well-believed faith.


The short movie is well acted by Kathryn Hanke (who is also one of the writers), the scene is very carefully and appropriately set, and the script is written with efficacy and conviction: most viewers will be Googling "Stephen Hawking meeting with the Pope" right after they finish watching this film for sure.

Reverse Darwinism a proud production by Chocolate Bear. Chocolate Bear make films. They aim to make them about people and with people. For more info please visit: https://chocolatebearuk.wordpress.com/films/reverse-darwinism-2019/