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Love and faith are put to the ultimate test in this stirring romantic drama set against the landmark Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. Charles Anderson (Nathan West, Miracle) is a talented young reporter engaged to Rose (Ashley Johnson, The Help), who works with him at the Tennessee small town newspaper his late father founded. The "Trial of the Century" brings brilliant adversaries William Jennings Bryan (Fred Thompson, The Genesis Code) and Clarence Darrow (Brian Dennehy, Cocoon) to Charles' hometown. But as the trial unfolds, Charles is caught up in the media circus and becomes torn between his journalistic integrity and impressing his mentor, the colorful Baltimore Sun editor H. L. Menken (Colm Meaney, Star Trek: The Next Generation), who presses him to "make a story" instead of report one.
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It's a mix of true and fictional. For instance, there's a whole subplot of a young reporter with his on, then off, then on-again fiancé, where he misleads people with his stories about the Scopes trial in order to try to be seen as successful in the world's eyes. To my knowledge this was a fictional part of the movie in the sense that it was written for the movie, although my guess is that there probably were such reporters at the time (that's just human nature). But several other parts of the trial itself seem to be grounded, at least partially, in true events.
This movie makes a strong link between evolution and eugenics (which was very popular in some circles at this time) and portrays the problem with both, though they are both portrayed in rather simplistic terms. You don't get a grand defense of Creationism in this movie, but it does clearly showcase two different worldviews: an atheistic one where there is no God and thus He didn't create us but that we are rather the product of evolution, and the Biblical one where there is a God and He did create us. And the evolution side is the one showcased by the movie as being foolish (though again, not because of any grand defense of Creationism that the movie portrays - more just by the "attitude"/"tone" of the movie).
It does showcase how the whole trial was started under very questionable pretenses and showcases that some testimony used was scripted, etc. It also lightly touches on the problems with some of the evolution "evidence" used such as "Nebraska man".
This movie is a great family or small-groups movie with lots of worthwhile discussion topics brought forth by the movie's focus on evolution, eugenics, Creationism (for instance, a main character in the movie talks of how he doesn't believe it was a literal 6-day creation), the importance of the Bible - taking God at face value, lying/deceit, the problem with trying to please the "world" vs. how we should do what's right before God, difference in atheistic vs. Christian worldviews, etc. There's even a discussion guide included on the disc that gives some Bible verse references, etc. relating to a few of these discussion topics (mostly on the lying/deceit/personal integrity themes).
Production quality was "good enough", but wasn't anything to get excited about - and actually the stylistic choice to try to make it look like the 1920's in the soft/hazy look and color tones, started to get to me a bit by about the half-way mark in the movie on the Blu-ray I watched (by the way, the Blu-ray quality was nothing to get too excited about - you could probably watch on DVD and not see much difference). The acting was fine - I must say I thought Fred Thompson did a pretty good job. I would generally put the overall quality level in the "good made-for-t.v. movie" type category.
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