Evolution (1925)

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In the summer of 1925, one of the most hotly debated news events was the Scopes trial. The middle America of the day was very religiously conservative, and had a hard time coming to grips with the scientific concept of evolution, preferring to believe that, like the Bible said, the world was created in seven days. The most abhorrent aspect of evolution to these folks was the contention that man was descended from the apes. Although animator Max Fleischer was better known for his Koko the Clown and Betty Boop characters, he also occasionally entered the realm of documentaries, and here his talent was used for something more serious than cartoons. First, man's modern inventions -- the creation of the radio and airplane -- are shown, and then the film goes back to the beginning of time. The whole theory of evolution is illustrated, starting with the Earth breaking off from the sun. Bodies of water form, cells develop into organisms, fish evolve into four-legged, oxygen-breathing creatures. Finally, the development of monkeys into apes into man is illustrated. The closing title leaves the audience to draw their own conclusions: "Some call it evolution, others the work of God."