Published: 10/09/2014 10:30 - Updated: 10/09/2014 10:44

Real life whodunnit screened at Eden Court

Trouble in Paradise: European settlers find the Galapaygos Islands are not the Paradise they hoped for.
Trouble in Paradise: European settlers find the Galapaygos Islands are not the Paradise they hoped for.

A TRUE life whodunnit on the remote Galapagos Islands comes to Eden Court cinema this weekend.

The scandalous true-life Adam-and-Eve adventures of a German doctor, Friedrich Ritter, his patient lover Dore Strauch, and the gun-toting, free-loving baroness who gate-crashed their Eden scandalized society in the 1930s.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden, by documentary film-makers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, pieces together evidence of the dangerous clash of personalities that gave 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 is narrated by Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett.

"Hollywood had been trying to make it as a fiction forever," Dayna Goldfine said.

"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."

Although the islands lie almost 1000 kilometres west of mainland Ecuador, they still have a Scottish connection.

The remote archipelago was first put on the naturalists’ map not by Darwin, their most famous visitor, but by a Scottish botanist, who beat The Beagle to its pristine shores by several years.

Scotland’s connection with the islands 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.

However, his groundbreaking travels were overshadowed by Darwin’s later visit and its influence on his theory of natural selection.

The strange deaths on Floreana Island, however, are still well remembered not just in the islands but also on mainland Ecuador.

A recent showing of The Galapagos Affair 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, Goldfine believes the story will appeal to anyone who has thought of making the great escape to their own particular Paradise.

"One of the things the film is about is what could happen if you do take that leap," she said.

"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 Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, from Friday to Sunday September 12th to 14th. Timings vary.

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