The Ladder of Creation – Jacob Bronowski – BBC (1973)

The theory of evolution was co-discovered independently by two biologists that lived within the same time period. Darwin and Wallace were well known in their time but Wallace’s name gradually has been overshadowed by Darwin. Today we rarely (almost never) hear the name Alfred Russell Wallace. In this documentary Jacob Bronowski makes a rare attempt to focus on the biography of this very influential scientist. He tells Wallace’s story beginning from the early years of his childhood. We see a determined resilient young naturalist without formal education build a respectable career through self-learning. He is the come back king. Almost everything go against him but he always makes a remarkable recovery and continues his life’s journey.

A century after his death 2013 was a commemorative year for Wallace. Until then only a few documentaries focused on this extremely influential biologist of his time including The Forgotten Voyage (1983) by Peter Crawford. In 2013 BBC produced a two part documentary on Wallace called Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero. Same year Howard Hughes Medical Institute also released a documentary The Making of a Theory directed by John Rubin which covers the mutual interaction between Darwin and Wallace and places a special emphasis on Wallace’s discoveries in the Malay Archipelago.

 

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