- News + Media
CNS Seminar (In-house)
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Before 1968, censor boards in the US and UK dictated which aspects of science they considered appropriate for movies and which scientific subjects they considered indecent or immoral. This talk will explore how filmmakers between 1930 and 1968 crafted stories involving evolutionary biology and how religious groups attempted to control these evolutionary narratives through censorship. Often evolutionary themes fell victim to the “Hays Code” that was administered by Hollywood’s official censorship organization –the Production Code Administration (PCA). Kirby will discuss how films, including Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), Island of Lost Souls (1932) and Dr. Renault’s Secret (1942), were modified before production or edited after release to play down their inclusion of evolution and Darwinism in accordance with the PCA’s recommendations. He will also examine how the Catholic Legion of Decency’s censure of evolutionary themes in cinema changed after the 1950 Papal encyclical, Humani generis, acknowledged human evolution as consistent with Catholic Doctrine. The Legion’s censorship decisions for post-1950 films such as I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and Planet of the Apes (1968) reveal how the Catholic Church continued to be conflicted about the moral implications of evolutionary narratives.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Machines, People, and Politics RFG, the Dept. of History, the Dept. of Film and Media Studies, and the Center for Nanotechnology in Society.