There is no doubt that this year has certainly been unlike any other in living memory for most of us. One of the biggest impacts of the global pandemic is on the entertainment industry, and the delay of the release of new films. Thankfully, a number of these have since been released online on various streaming services, and Radioactive is one of them. For those of you that aren’t aware of the film, it’s a biopic of Marie Skłodowska Curie and her ground-breaking scientific achievements. In my mind she was one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, and one who we owe so much too. Just think how much the discovery of radioactivity has changed our lives.
Other breakthroughs that Marie Curie is known for are the discovery of radium and polonium, with which her husband Pierre Curie is also credited. Because of this work, Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. On top of this, she was the first person in history to win the award twice. If that there isn’t inspiration then I don’t know what is. Rosamund Pike plays a very convincing Curie throughout. I know things have been dramatised slightly (they always are), but it really feels like you’re a fly on the wall watching the Curies in their lab making scientific history.
The film starts in 1934 with Curie’s death, and as she lays there being rushed into hospital, her life flashes before her eyes – starting at the beginning of her research. This is the first time that I’ve seen this plot device used in a film, and it is extremely effective to tell the story of Curie’s life and work. There are segments throughout the film that jump to various points in time, such as the detonation of Little Boy and the Chernobyl disaster, which highlight the power of the discoveries made by the Curies. Unfortunately Curie died due to aplastic anaemia, believed to have been linked to her overexposure to radiation. It’s extremely sad that the very things she was studying ultimately led to her death.
If, like me, you’ve got an interest in the history of science and a deep respect for Marie Curie, I would highly recommend you watch Radioactive as it has discovery, love, scandals and most importantly an insight into Curie’s life.
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