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Saturday, July 23, 2005

10 Films About Scientists

Inspired by the discussion "Weird Science..." taking place over at The Screenwriting Life, I have compiled a list of...

10 MOTION PICTURES FEATURING SCIENTIST PROTAGONISTS

(I've also indicated whether the main character is practicing pure science or applied science)

1.) Altered States (1980) (pure science)
2.) A Beautiful Mind (2001) (pure science)
3.) Contact (1997) (pure science)
4.) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913, et al.) (applied science)
5.) Frankenstein (1931, et al.) / Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (applied science)
6.) Jurassic Park (1993) (pure science, main character; applied science, supporting character)
7.) Madame Curie (1943) (pure science)
8.) The Nutty Professor (1963, et al.) (applied science)
9.) The Race For The Double Helix (aka Life Story) (1987) (pure science)
10.) The Story Of Louis Pasteur (1935) (applied science)

I wondered whether or not to put "A Beautiful Mind" on the list, since the character is a mathematician and not specifically a scientist, but I did some research and was reassured that mathematics is, in fact, one of the purest forms of PURE science (correcting the original post where I had mistakenly written "applied science"). If I had kept "A Beautiful Mind" out of it, you would have probably gotten in its stead "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" (1989).

As a side note, some of the user comments for "Madame Curie" at the Internet Movie Database are quite good and would be helpful for those trying to find out exactly what makes a scientist movie entertaining.

Those with a science background will certainly have better informed opinions than most and I welcome these. I still am not entirely clear on the difference between pure and applied science (though, as I understand it, scientists prefer to practice pure science, while corporations and government prefer scientists to practice applied science). For example, saying that Ellie in "Contact" is practicing pure science in her searching the skies for intelligent life doesn't feel quite right to me...Is there anybody out there with a viewpoint on that?...Or am I all alone in the universe?...

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3 Comments:

Nice list. Mind if I post a link to your post on my site?

- By Blogger Warren, at Sun Jul 24, 04:06:00 AM GMT+1  

Thanks Neal - Altered States was one of the films I'd been thinking about, along with Flatliners and The Fly, but your list was very helpful and cause for much further rumination.

- By Anonymous Joshua, at Sun Jul 24, 05:56:00 PM GMT+1  

"The Fly"! Of course. That one didn't even occur to me. Silly. What a great companion piece to "Altered States"!

- By Blogger Neal Romanek, at Mon Jul 25, 05:25:00 AM GMT+1  

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