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Great Scott!! The “Movie Scientist Blogathon” is Back!

The “Movie Scientist Blogathon: The Good, the Mad, the Lonely” is back for 2017! I am so excited to be co-hosting this event with Ruth at Silver Screenings.

The blogathon is about movie scientists. The good scientists, the mad scientists, and the lonely scientists. The idea originated from a discussion between Ruth and myself about how scientists get into all sorts of trouble because they insist on working alone (like Dr. Frankenstein) instead of getting an outside opinion that might prevent careless mistakes or unfortunate occurrences. The blogathon is not, however, limited to only lonely scientists.

When – September 8-10, 2017

Each day is dedicated to a different subset of scientists.

Day 1 (8th) – The Good

Day 2 (9th) – The Mad

Day 3 (10th) – The Lonely

How – You can sign up by filling out the form below. If you want to do more than one topic, simply fill out a separate form for each topic. Be sure to choose which day your scientist or film fits in. If you have a scientists that could be put into more than one category, feel free to choose the day that works best for you.

On the evening of each day of the blogathon, Silver Screenings and I will put up a recap of the day’s posts. To send us your post, simply paste the link of your post to one of our comments sections or tweet it to us (I can be found at @_cwehner) and we will include it in the recap. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact either me or Ruth at Silver Screenings.

Rules – Because there are so many movie scientists to choose from, we are not allowing duplicate posts on any film. Once a film has been chosen by one blogger, it is no longer available, unless you would like to compare it to another film (like comparing the 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). We are also not including television scientists in this blogathon, but there are no limits on what time period the film can be from, from the silent era to 2017.

To help us get the word out, please feel free to grab one of the banners at the bottom of this post, which I want to thank Ruth for creating!

Sign-Up Below

Movie Roster View Sheet – You can also click HERE to open the roster in another window.

 
54 Comments

Posted by on June 17, 2017 in Movies

 

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Madame Curie (1943)

MV5BMjI4NzAwNDUwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTA1MjkyMTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_After the phenomenal success of Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson earned an Academy Award for Best Actress), MGM re-teamed much of the cast for Madame Curie, a biopic of Marie Curie and her romance with husband/scientist Pierre Curie. The movie was inspired by the book Madame Curie: A Biography, written her daughter, Eve Curie. The role was originally intended for Irene Dunne in the late 1930s, then Greta Garbo. Finally, Greer Garson was given the role in 1943.

What I was surprised at was how much (reasonably) accurate science is incorporated into the movie. It is a blend of romance and scientific endeavor and apart from an excessively reverential tone, the film is surprisingly interesting and very sweet.

Marie Sklodowska (Greer Garson) is a Polish student studying in Paris in the 1890s. She’s an extraordinary dedicated and earnest student, brilliant in her work, and she is noticed by Professor Perot (Albert Basserman), who sets her up in a lab with Dr. Curie (Walter Pidgeon), a shy physicist who is at first concerned that having a woman in the lab will prove disruptive.

It is only disruptive in that Dr. Curie begins to fall in love with her and is dismayed that she intends to return to Poland and teach. He believes that she has so much to contribute to science that she ought to stay in Paris and continue her work. He also wants her to stay because he loves her, but it takes him a while to realize it.

He finally does propose, however, after having her down to his country home to meet his parents (Dame May Whitty and Henry Travers). Once married, she embarks on her doctoral work, investigating why pitchblende (ore filled with uranium and therefore radioactive) emits energy strong enough to act like light on a photographic plate. She soon discovers that once the uranium is removed from the ore – which she believes is the sole source of the radiation in the pitchblende – the ore is still radioactive. This brings her to the conclusion that there must be another, unknown and radioactive element and she and her husband set out to isolate and prove its existence.

90736-004-05FEA8C2The process of isolating the unknown element was unbelievably laborious and the film does a good job of demonstrating this. They dissolved the ore and selectively precipitated out the different elements, one element at a time, until only the radium remained. Now, you could just put your specimen of ore under a powerful x-ray machine and determine what elements are in it.

Eventually, they are able to prove the existence of radium, though the film skips their discovery of polonium (polonium is best known for being used to poison Alexander Litvineko, who had fled Russia and accused the Russian Federal Security Service of organizing a kind of coup so Putin could take power – ironic since Marie Curie named the element Polonium after her homeland, Poland, to underline the fact that Poland was not an independent country and was partly controlled by Russia).

It is a testament that the film never gets bogged down in excessive science and keeps things understandable, though it does occasionally get bogged down in too-reverential discourses on the importance of science. But what keeps the film relatable is the romance between Marie and Pierre.

Walter Pidgeon in particular brings a lot of warmth to the role and to the film. Greer Garson does well, but she is extremely earnest. She’s like George Eliot’s Dorothea Brooks and Dr. Lydgate combined. She has the saintliness and earnestness of Dorothea (she is even frequently lighted as though she were saint, with a warm glow of light on her face) and the scientific brilliance and dedication of Dr. Lydgate. But Pierre Curie, though equally brilliant, seems a bit more vulnerable, shy, devotedly in love with his wife and dedicated to working side-by-side with her. There is something so sweet in how he discovers that he no longer can imagine working or living without her. They manage the unique feat of being fully committed to their work and fully committed to each other (though as far as I can tell in the film, Pierre’s father is raising their children).

602508_origAnd although it is clear that Marie also loves Pierre, it is like she doesn’t fully appreciate it until after their discovery of radium. After the intense few years of work, now her pressing work has lifted she fully sees how much she loves him…only for tragedy to strike.

I had always heard that Marie Curie died as a result of her work, which gave me the impression that she died particularly young. In my ignorance, I was expecting the last bit of the film to be about her wasting away a martyr to her science, but actually she lived until she was 66, though the cause of her death is believed to be related to her lifelong exposure to radiation. But it was actually Pierre who died tragically young in a traffic accident (run over by a horse and cart) when he was only 47 and she 39.

The film is much more upbeat about science than films would be after the end of WWII. It is about overcoming obstacles, dreaming great things (“to catch a star on your fingertips”), wonderment, collaboration. In Madame Curie, she speaks about cures for cancer, that “science has great beauty and, with its great spiritual strength, will in time cleanse this world of its evils, its ignorance, its poverty, diseases, wars, and heartaches.” After the end of WWII, it was “what man has wrought” and fear of the atomic bomb and an ambivalent attitude about the double-edged sword of science.

Madame Curie doesn’t seem to be watched as often as some of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon’s other films, but the chemistry is there and for a 1940s biopic, it’s quite detailed. They even reproduced scenes from pictures of the real Pierre and Marie Curie (their wedding day with their bikes, the clothes Marie Curie wore in the lab) and over all it has a more authentic feel than I am used to from MGM films.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Movies

 

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Movie Scientist Blogathon Day 2 Recap – The Mad

Yesterday, Good Scientists had their day in the sun – today the Mad Scientists come out from the shadows! And what a marvelous assemblage of Madness.

img_7665The Love Pirate draws lessons of both caution and hope in Tony Stark the Mad Scientist – Avengers: Age of Ultron

frakmust1Speakeasy shows how Frankenstein Must Die takes the Frankenstein story to its logical conclusion

pretorious-monsterWolffian Classic Movies Digest explores what makes The Bride of Frankenstein a “magical” film.

invisibleray2Caftan Woman shows how Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi can use science for either good or ill in The Invisible Ray.

Frankenstein-05Midnight Only writes about the “undiminished spark” of Frankenstein (1931).

hqdefaultCrítica Retrô gives us the great Lon Chaney in The Monster.

blood-of-dracula-xvCineMaven shows that when it comes to mad scientists, the men have nothing on the women in Blood of Dracula.

5449486772469760Movie Movie Blog Blog presents RE-ANIMATOR (1985) -A sci-fi movie with sparks of genius.

12Love Letters to Old Hollywood celebrates Young Frankenstein and Gene Wilder.

lionThe Hitless Wonder Movie Blog writes of the “dementedly glorious” Lionel Atwill in The Vampire Bat.

8e8b9-poisonBNoirDetour gives us a “devilish upper-class mad scientist” in Obsession (The Hidden Room).

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The Midnite Drive-In gives us brains galore in the double feature The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and The Madmen of Mandoras (1963) (aka. They Saved Hitler’s Brain)

maskCinematic Scribblings explores the issue of identity in The Face of Another.

metropolis_stillFilm Music Central writes about “Rotwang or, what mad scientists will do for love” in Metropolis.

dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-1941-04-spencer-tracy-ingrid-bergmanFictionFan’s Book Reviews gives us Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: a face-off between the 1931 film version, the 1941 film version, AND the novel.

Dr Strangelove 2Defiant Success presents Peter Sellers in the maddest of three roles in Dr. Strangelove.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2016 in Movies

 

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