Galapagos Affair-485
Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

A good historical documentary should tell an interesting story in a cohesive way and arouse our interest, even if we know nothing about the subject matter. The Galapagos Affair does just that, without resorting to cheesy dramatic reenactments. The only question is why no one has tackled this juicy material until now.

Filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller (who made the wonderful Ballets Russes) stumbled onto this mother lode while on assignment in the Galapagos Islands in the late 1990s. In pursuing the story, which dates back to the early 1930s, they found the key to a compelling presentation: a cache of home movie footage depicting all the central characters. They also cast a wider net by interviewing children, relatives, and neighbors who grew up in the island chain and (in many cases) remain there today.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden begins as a self-styled German philosopher and intellectual decides to leave civilization and move to an uninhabited island called Floreana half a world away. He takes along a married woman who is blindly devoted to him and his dream of finding a new Eden. Their isolation is short-lived, as another couple soon arrives, followed by an ostentatious, domineering woman who calls herself a Baroness and announces plans to build a hotel. Personalities clash and drama builds to a boiling point, as we learn from the diaries, letters, and writings of the principals—well-read on the soundtrack by Cate Blanchett, Sebastian Koch, Diane Kruger, Thomas Kretschmann, Connie Nielsen, Josh Radnor, and Gustaf Skarsgård.

Truth is usually stranger, and often more intriguing, than fiction, and this well-told narrative is a perfect example. The Galapagos Affair has more going for it than most of the claptrap filling multiplexes right now.

To learn where and when the film is playing, click HERE