Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus
By Randy Olson
color, 84 min, 2006
This film is closed-captioned.
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Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus is the first feature length documentary to explore the Darwin vs. intelligent design controversy. Filmmaker/evolutionary ecologist/surfer Dr. Randy Olson pokes fun at both sides of this debate and eventually uses his own mother, Muffy Moose, to make sense out of the issue that both Time and Newsweek recently featured on their covers. He travels to his home state of Kansas, the top battle ground for evolution, where he sits down with his mother's neighbor, John Calvert, one of the top lawyers backing intelligent design, for a confrontation that leaves audiences squirming in their seats.
"It's a reflection of the current culture wars," Olson says. "It's the age old split between science and religion, with a few new twists." Labeled by early audiences as "a polite Michael Moore," Olson challenges top advocates for intelligent design (including Dr. Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box). With a sense of scientific inquiry, he tries to understand a movement that so misfired last year in Dover, PA., a Republican-Bush appointee judge labeled local efforts to teach intelligent design as, "breathtaking inanity."
School districts are now grappling with the new efforts to introduce intelligent design, the movement evolutionists prefer to call, "creationism in a cheap tuxedo." However, Olson, in a surprising turn given his evolution background, also paints an unflattering portrait of his fellow scientists. Pulling together eight evolutionists for a night of poker, he reveals them to be arrogant, condescending, and self-certain until they eventually turn on themselves in a spat that sounds like...a flock of dodos.
From the opening statistic (a pie chart in the form of an apple pie) the film provides equal amounts of laughter, guffaws, and eventually enough serious thought to prompt hours of discussion. And unlike recent political rants, the film maintains an atmosphere of fairness, allowing audiences from both sides to watch it together.
"In his lighthearted and humorous film, director and evolutionary ecologist Dr. Randy Olson talks to ID supporters in his home state of Kansas and in Dover, Pennsylvania - two lightning rods in the debate because of recent efforts to downplay the significance of Darwin in public schools. On the opposing side, he brings together a group of eight friends, all scientists, for a game of poker and a spirited discussion of the issues. The result is an approachable, surprising work that is less a polemic defending evolution and more an exploration of deeply-held beliefs and biases... With a balanced, humorous approach making it accessible to most audiences, Flock of Dodos is a great discussion-starter and highly recommended." — Mike Boedicker, Danville Public Library, Illinois
Please visit the film's website, flockofdodos.com, to view the trailer and additional information.
Muffy Moose now has a weblog, www.muffymoose.com. It took her 83 years to become a movie star, now they can't keep her quiet!
In what felt almost like a very generous hour long informercial for Flock of Dodos, Randy Olson joined Pulitzer Prize winning author Ed Humes (author of the newly released, Monkey Girl) and long time Dodos supporter Nick Matzke of the National Center for Science Education for a discussion with host Ira Flatow. Listen to it here on Science Friday's website.
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
NatFilm Fest, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007
Watkins School of Film and Art Nashville, TN, 2007
Darwin Day Screenings, across the U.S., 2007
Tribeca Film Festival, New York City, NY, 2006
Maui Film Festival, Wailea, HI, 2006
Tahoe/Reno International Film Festival, Squaw Creek, CA
DocNZ International Documentary Film Festival, New Zealand, 2006
Kansas International Film Festival, Overland Park, KS, 2006
Best Documentary, New Hampshire Film Expo, Portsmouth, NH 2006
William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 2006
Virginia Film Festival, Charlottesville, VA 2006
American Science Technology Centers National Conference, Louisville, KY 2006
Documentary Film Market, Leipzig Dok Market, Leipzig, Germany 2006
SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 2006
Buffalo State University, Buffalo, NY 2006
Margaret Mead Film And Video Festival, New York City, American Museum of Natural History, November 10, 2006