The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden, GFT, 3 – 6 August

The Wittmer Family in front of the home on Floreana circa 1932“THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE FILM SO FAR OF 2014.”


November Films

GFT, 12 Rose Street

3 – 6 August, 2014

Information and tickets

Darwin meets Hitchcock on a lonely archipelago first visited by a Scot

A fascinating new take on a shocking tale of broken dreams, sex and murder that gripped the newspapers even as Europe prepared for war, premieres at Glasgow Film Theatre next month (August 3-6).

The true-life Adam-and-Eve adventures of a German doctor, his patient/lover, a self-styled Swiss Family Robinson, and a gun-toting, free-loving baroness who gate-crashed their Eden scandalized society in the 1930s.  

What’s less well known is that the remote archipelago on which thismismatched bunch of exiles fought and died was first put on the naturalists’ map not by Darwin but by a Scottish botanist, who beat The Beagle to its pristine shores by several years.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Edenby award-winning documentary film-makers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, pieces together evidence of the dangerous clash of personalities, which tore Paradise apart almost 90 years ago, giving rise to a mystery that made stunning Floreana Island as famous for its ignominy as its iguanas.

Drawing on previously unseen home movie footage of the settlers, letters, contemporaneous reports and interviews with today’s inhabitants, the film constructs a gripping whodunit in which the flora and fauna of modern-day Floreana is just as much a star as Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett’s masterful voice-over.

The Galapagos Affair also includes stellar performances by Diane Kruger, Connie Nielsen, Thomas Kretschmann, Sebastian Koch, Gustaf Skarsgård and Josh Radnor.

As murder mysteries go, it trumps the BBC’s “Shetland” for remote island locations hiding unsavoury secrets. But what makes it addictive viewing is the fact it happened for real.

“Hollywood had been trying to make it as a fiction forever,” says Dayna Goldfine. “The reason why it hasn’t happened yet, although scripts have been flying around for over 20 years, is that it is such a complicated story, and there are so many characters. Each one is worthy of their own script, certainly they are all larger than life.”

Scotland’s connection with the islands on which the characters’ lives played out – some to a tragic and grisly conclusion – was highlighted in May with a new book on the “Darwin of Glasgow”, naturalist John Scouler’s travels to the Galapagos in the 1820s.

Ten years before Darwin set sail, Scouler, the son of a calico printer at Kilbarchan, had explored the uninhabited islands, acquiring specimens and adding to collections that helped found Glasgow’s Andersonian Museum.

But his groundbreaking travels were overshadowed and Scouler was largely ignored by history – something that could not be said of The Galapagos Affair’s protagonists, whose salacious memory lives on, not just in the islands but also on mainland Ecuador. A recent showing of the film in Guayaquil was overwhelmed by audiences demanding tickets and a riot was only averted by the management promising a repeat.

Almost a century after the events, Dayna believes the story will appeal to anyone who has thought of making the great escape to their own particular Paradise. Just beware the dream doesn’t end as badly as it did on Floreana.

“One of the things the film is about is what could happen if you do take that leap?” says Dayna. “You leave society and you go in pursuit of your own little deserted island, in search of Paradise. But when you get there, someone else is already situated on that same island and their notion of Paradise clashes explicitly with your notion of Paradise. What do you do?”

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden is showing at Glasgow Film Theatre from August 3-6 and at the Robert Burns Film Theatre, Dumfries on September 2.

Here’s what people have been saying about it:

“Move over, Charles Darwin, when it comes to great tales about the Galapagos, you’ve got company.” – Los Angeles Times

“A hybrid of juicy period soap opera and ‘Survivor.’” – New York Times

“A haunting exploration of wildness, human nature and our struggles to escape what perhaps is inevitable.” – Variety

“There’s big trouble in paradise… a true-life story so rife with melodrama, exotic lifestyles, sexual intrigue and suspicious deaths that it’s surprising that no film has been made about it until now.” – Hollywood Reporter

“The most irresistible film so far of 2014” – San Francisco Chronicle

Mood Indigo, GFT, Friday 1–Thursday 14 August, 2014
Film: Sightlines, The Empire Cafe, 26 July - 1 August

This section: Cinema

Filed under: Cinema

Written by :

Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

Leave a Reply

Copyright Glasgow Westend 2009 thru 2017

Contact Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End | About Pat Byrne | Privacy Policy | Design by Jim Byrne Website Design