Inherit the Wind: Religion vs. Science
Stanley Kramer's film, Inherit the Wind, examines a trial based on the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. Often referred to as "The Trial of the Century" (Scopes Trial Web Page), the Scopes trial illuminated the controversy between the Christian theory of creation and the more scientific theory of evolution. John Scopes, a high school biology teacher, was arrested for illegally teaching evolutionism to his class. "The meaning of the trial emerged because it was seen as a conflict of social and intellectual values" (Scopes Trial Web Page). Kramer's film dramatizes this conflict between the Christian believers and the evolutionists in "Hillsboro, heavenly Hillsboro, the buckle on the Bible belt" (Inherit the Wind). Prosecutor Matthew Brady represents the values of fundamental Christianity while defense attorney Henry Drummond is the voice of reason and science. Although the two men have been good friends and partners in the past, the case in Hillsboro illuminates the difference in their values. Through the scene on the porch with Matthew Brady and Henry Drummond, director Stanley Kramer illustrates the incessant tug-of-war between religion and science. More specifically, camera angle and Drummond's metaphor of the "Golden Dancer" help deliver Kramer's belief in evolutionism.
As the scene opens, Matthew Brady approaches Henry Drummond, who is rocking peacefully on the front porch of their hotel. The tone between the two men is light and friendly and the bland music playing in the background helps to portray the easiness of the scene. The opposing lawyers converse in a genteel manner, unlike their relationship in the courtroom. In response to Brady's observation that the two old friends have drifted apart, Drummond says, "...maybe it's you who have moved away by standing still" (Inherit the Wind). Drummond implies that Brady's religious beliefs are narrow and stagnant, preventing him from considering any of the scientific discoveries of the twentieth century. As the two men continue to talk on the porch, the audience can see that they are rocking in their chairs at opposite tempos, pulling against each other as religion and science often contradict one another. At this point the camera angle is at face level, allowing each man half of the screen space. This equal division suggests Kramer's belief that society is based on a balance of religion and science.
Both Brady and Drummond agree that creationism is not a proven theory, and although Brady is a religious man himself, he places the people of Hillsboro in a class lower than himself. He explains, "These are simple people, Henry, poor people. They worked hard and they need to believe in something, something beautiful. They're seeking something more perfect than what they have" (Inherit the Wind). By this, Brady concedes that religion is like a fairy tale; it is not real, yet it makes...