Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-13-2019, 04:45 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 82,749

Inspiring movies about other sciences?


I'm a substitute teacher. Today, I was teaching science, and the plans called for me to show the class Apollo 13. OK, that's not a bad movie for a science class, since it's an inspiring true story about sciency stuff... but it was a biology class.

And thinking about it, rocket science has a lot of movies like that: Off the top of my head, in addition to Apollo 13, you've also got October Sky and Hidden Figures, among others. And there are plenty of fictional movies that work, too.

But where are the inspiring true stories of biologists? There are probably some good stories to tell from the front lines of the fight against smallpox, for instance. Or chemistry?

Any suggestions?
  #2  
Old 05-13-2019, 04:51 PM
cormac262 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,338
I think "The Martian" covers a lot of different science areas: chemistry, botany, as well as astro-physics.

"The Andromeda Strain" comes to mind as a good biology example. Maybe even "World War Z" as well.
  #3  
Old 05-13-2019, 05:09 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 21,709
It'd be nice if this were a real documentary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1iCZpFMYd0

These might be decent. I believe they're both on youtube.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6256972/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1950178/
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 05-13-2019 at 05:10 PM.
  #4  
Old 05-13-2019, 05:51 PM
hogarth is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Toronto
Posts: 7,285
"Gorillas in the Mist" is kind of biology related.
  #5  
Old 05-13-2019, 05:58 PM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
You mean he's STILL here?
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 25,754
Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge and the 1943 biopic, Madame Curie.

Fortunately, the timelines of both films end a good deal earlier than Madame Curie's actual timeline.
  #6  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:02 PM
Snowboarder Bo's Avatar
Snowboarder Bo is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 25,300
Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies may be bit longer than you're looking for, but this three-part 6-hour series is excellent.

Or you could go with the 2 hour Nova episode What Darwin Never Knew (1st aired in 2009) which discusses Darwin and places his work in context with what we now know about DNA.

Sticking with a bio-med theme, 2014's fantastic Alive Inside discusses aging, Alzheimer's Disease, cognitive decline, the nature of memory, etc.

The BBC did a really good series called Chemistry - A Volatile History a fewten () years back.

It occurs to me tho: perhaps the OP is asking about dramatized events, like Apollo 13 rather than well-made documentaries?
  #7  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:14 PM
CalMeacham's Avatar
CalMeacham is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 43,944
Doctor Ehrlich's Magic Bullet

A movie about a mostly-forgotten doctor who discovered a treatment for syphilis. It was controversial when it came out in 1940, because it dealt with venereal disease. Somehow, it got made.

Starring Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Paul Ehrlich!


There's also The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), starring Paul Muni as Pasteur.
__________________
Who is the Calypso Singer that rides Pegasus?
Harry Bellerophonte

Last edited by CalMeacham; 05-13-2019 at 06:16 PM.
  #8  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:26 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 10,403
Maybe Awakenings?


Not likely to be many examples--it isn't easy to sexy/action up a story about years of standing in a lab watching test tubes and petri dishes. Maybe they could pull off Hugh Jackman as Alexander Flemming, but no way would they get Jennifer Lawrence as bread mold.
  #9  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:26 PM
bordelond's Avatar
bordelond is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: La Rive Ouest
Posts: 10,136
Something the Lord Made, about the pioneering African-American heart surgeon Vivien Thomas.
  #10  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:36 PM
RealityChuck's Avatar
RealityChuck is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 42,371
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Doctor Ehrlich's Magic Bullet

A movie about a mostly-forgotten doctor who discovered a treatment for syphilis. It was controversial when it came out in 1940, because it dealt with venereal disease. Somehow, it got made.
Mostly because they never explained was syphilis was.

If you're looking for books, I'd highly recommend Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif. It's absolutely riveting reading.
__________________
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
  #11  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:42 PM
Lord Mondegreen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Canberra ACT Australia
Posts: 1,311
What about Lorenzo’s Oil?
  #12  
Old 05-13-2019, 08:52 PM
crowmanyclouds's Avatar
crowmanyclouds is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: ... hiding in my room ...
Posts: 4,531
Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
Something the Lord Made, about the pioneering African-American heart surgeon Vivien Thomas.
My first thought.

CMC fnord!
  #13  
Old 05-13-2019, 08:52 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 82,749
Wesley Clark, "A World Without Zinc" might not be real, but the flick it's a parody of, "A World Without Springs", is. And is even cheesier than the Simpsons version.

And to be clear, I'm not looking for documentaries, per se: There are plenty of those. I'm looking for Hollywood-style movies that would appeal to people who weren't even trying to learn something.

Gorillas in the Mist would probably qualify, though.
  #14  
Old 05-13-2019, 09:58 PM
Dropo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 546
Les Joyeux Microbes - 1909

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpiClLL4nYc

My personal favorite Emile Cohl short.


O Plankton – 1940

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8748658/?ref_=kw_li_tt

Haven’t seen this one, but it has a great poetic title and sounds terribly exciting.


The Atom and Biological Science - 1952

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1965153/?ref_=kw_li_tt

From IMDB: “As a demonstration of the effects of radioactivity, a rat is fed radioactive table sugar.” Important scientific experiments like this should be shared with all school children.


Fantastic Voyage - 1968

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060397...1?ref_=nv_sr_1

Would seem to have sure-fire “appeal to people who weren't even trying to learn something.” And don’t forget the TV animated series! I never even knew it existed until this very day.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062559/?ref_=kw_li_tt


This Was the Beginning - Part 1: The Invertebrates - 1980

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0344451/?ref_=kw_li_tt

‘Cause...it’s the invertebrates. This will help students prepare themselves for the inevitable day when our true cephalopoidal masters return from their extended vacation to reclaim their rightful dominion over this cursed dimensional plane.


Angels and Insects - 1995

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112365...1?ref_=nv_sr_1

From IMDB: "In the 1800s a naturalist marries into a family of British country gentry." The sex scenes might be a little strong for the kiddies.


Death by Design: Where Parallel Worlds Meet - 1997

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118947/?ref_=kw_li_tt

Haven’t seen this, don’t know anything about it; sounded interesting.
  #15  
Old 05-13-2019, 10:04 PM
peccavi's Avatar
peccavi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: South Bay, SoCal
Posts: 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
And to be clear, I'm not looking for documentaries, per se: There are plenty of those. I'm looking for Hollywood-style movies that would appeal to people who weren't even trying to learn something.
You are right that there aren't very many movies that give a flavor of biological science. Most medical/biological centered movies seem to fall into the following categories:
  1. They seize on one scientific breakthrough and spin a tale around the reactions of everyone (scientists, laypeople, an amazingly cute child) to the application, but not so much about the science, the road to the breakthrough and what is involved.

  2. They take something very speculative (or simply riff on the name of a scientific effect) and spin a tale of (corporate) greed and worldwide catastrophe.

  3. Man should not play god! Hilarity ensues. OK, not hilarity. What's the term I'm looking for? Oh yeah..body horror and murderous rampages
Some of the non-documentaries above are pretty good, but most aren't biological/life sciences oriented, or if they are, they fit into one of the three categories above.

Doing a little searching I think I've found a couple of movies that might be worthwhile and haven't been mentioned:

Creation (2009), the story of Charles Darwin and the writing of Origin of the Species.

Experimenter (2015), the story of Dr. Milgram and his (in)famous experiments into the psychology of obedience.

Not recommended for younger students is a favorite of mine, and one of the best depictions of what grad school is really like I've seen, Creator (1985). (OK, not the nonstop sex with Mariel Hemingway )

Finally, outside of the biological sciences, but an excellent depiction of what is was like to be a female scientist in the early 20th century is Marie Curie (2016), though this one is also not for younger students, since Dr. Curie's love life was a messy as her science was disciplined, and this film doesn't leave any details out.
  #16  
Old 05-13-2019, 10:41 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 10,403
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Wesley Clark, "A World Without Zinc" might not be real, but the flick it's a parody of, "A World Without Springs", is. And is even cheesier than the Simpsons version.

Shame on you, not providing a link.
  #17  
Old 05-14-2019, 12:34 AM
Horatio Hellpop is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Jeju-si, S. Korea
Posts: 9,505
This isn't precisely what you're looking for, but The Name of the Rose celebrates the scientific method of inquiry in a way that's downright anachronistic. It's also the closest we'll ever get to seeing Sean Connery play Batman (and Christian Slater play Robin).
  #18  
Old 05-14-2019, 02:08 AM
Tangent's Avatar
Tangent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Cowtown
Posts: 9,775
Never Cry Wolf is a great film about a biologist studying the effect of wolves on the caribou population in the Canadian arctic. There is some non-sexual nudity, though.

Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes, was an HBO biographical film about a woman who changed how cattle are managed in ranches and slaughterhouses. Her contributions were especially notable because she was a woman working in a male-dominated industry, and she faced personal and professional challenges due to her autism.

And I haven't seen it, but a few years ago there was a movie made about Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki expedition. I've read Heyerdahl's book and I've seen parts of the original documentary film, but I'm not sure how the dramatization compares.
  #19  
Old 05-14-2019, 02:20 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,166
I'm excited about upcoming Mary Anning/Charlotte Murchison biopic Ammonite, although a bit dissapointed that there's a lesbian subplot basically pulled out of thin air. Not so much the making Anning a lesbian, I'm OK with that, since we don't know her sexuality (although IMO it doesn't gel with her very religious nature). But Murchison was AFAIK quite devoted to her husband so it's a bit of a stretch. There's no correspondence or even rumour about her having affairs with anyone.

Still, it's a biopic about not one, but two criminally overlooked pioneers of earth sciences, so I can overlook that cack-handed attempt to emulate some of that The Favourite historic sapphic sparkle.
  #20  
Old 05-14-2019, 02:29 AM
glee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,360
Could you focus on the biology of the astronauts collapsing due to CO2 poisoning?
  #21  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:54 AM
Banksiaman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Australia
Posts: 918
If you blink, you'll miss Helen Hunt as a frog biologist in Cast Away. I'm not sure we actually see her doing anything biological [except breathing perhaps]. She's on screen a lot less than the volleyball.

The original Godzilla features a biologist / palaeontologist as the most useful human in a time of great crisis and drama.
  #22  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:59 AM
Wrenching Spanners is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: London
Posts: 271
Life Story AKA The Race for the Double Helix, starring Jeff Goldblum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Story_(film)

Also, this category: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catego...out_scientists

Last edited by Wrenching Spanners; 05-14-2019 at 05:01 AM.
  #23  
Old 05-14-2019, 05:35 AM
And his buzzer goes ...'s Avatar
And his buzzer goes ... is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Belgium
Posts: 111
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Im...ta_Lacks_(film)
  #24  
Old 05-14-2019, 05:56 AM
Bijou Drains is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 9,004
a Beautiful Mind is the true story of a math genius who won the Nobel prize in economics

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268978/
  #25  
Old 05-14-2019, 06:13 AM
Grrr!'s Avatar
Grrr! is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 16,121
Agora is my absolute fave.

About her:

Hypatia (born c. 350–370; died 415 AD) was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician,

Last edited by Grrr!; 05-14-2019 at 06:14 AM.
  #26  
Old 05-14-2019, 09:31 AM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 19,028
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
Life Story AKA The Race for the Double Helix, starring Jeff Goldblum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Story_(film)
Came here to post this one. It was available to download to educational institutions from some site the last time I looked for it.

"So we got it 2400% wrong. Anybody can make a mistake."
  #27  
Old 05-14-2019, 02:32 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 82,749
Is A Beautiful Mind actually what you'd call "inspiring"? It seems to me that its message (as well as that of Proof, fictional but also good) is that mathematicians are crazy. Which does admittedly have some measure of truth to it.

And I'm not sure that Godzilla is any sort of model of good science. Fiction is one thing, oxygen-destroyer bombs are another.

Darwin, Annings, and Henrietta Lacks look promising, though.
  #28  
Old 05-14-2019, 03:09 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 10,403
I wouldn't call the Henrietta Lacks story exactly "inspiring" either. And the Mary Anning story? That is almost as bad as my crack about making a movie about the discovery of penicillin a romance between Alexander Flemming played by Hugh Jackman and bread mold played by Jennifer Lawrence. Mary Anning spent her adult life scraping together a living for herself and her younger siblings by searching for fossils on the beach/cliffs near her house. She had a very tough life and died young from cancer. But some piece of shit comes along and decides that story isn't sexy enough and makes the movie into a Secret Lesbian Love Affair.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 05-14-2019 at 03:09 PM.
  #29  
Old 05-14-2019, 03:22 PM
Bijou Drains is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 9,004
In a Beautiful Mind John Nash overcomes his mental illness and returns to do more math, that is inspiring.

In real life he actually stopped taking his medications but they did not mention that in the movie because they did not want people to think they should stop medication without their Dr. approving it.
  #30  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:20 PM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 5,311
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Maybe Awakenings?


Not likely to be many examples--it isn't easy to sexy/action up a story about years of standing in a lab watching test tubes and petri dishes. Maybe they could pull off Hugh Jackman as Alexander Flemming, but no way would they get Jennifer Lawrence as bread mold.
My first thought when you said that was "they should totally make a movie about the development of penicillin, during WWII - it's actually a killer story, with intra-team drama, the backdrop of the larger conflict, stops and starts, sick little boys in hospital. Fleming's original discovery is actually the least interesting part of the penicillin story.

So I looked, and they did.

Now I want to watch it. It's a great story, the film's got good enough reviews, and mmm, Dominic West
__________________
It is easier to fall than to climb ... letting go for the fall brings a wonderful feeling of ease and power
- Katherine Kerr Daggerspell
  #31  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:37 PM
terentii's Avatar
terentii is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Moscow/Toronto
Posts: 17,348
I Aim at the Stars (1960). Kurt Jurgens, James Daly. The story of Wernher von Braun and how he ended up directing the US space program.

How "inspirational" this movie is I guess depends on your nationality.
__________________
Is it true the two greatest problems facing us today are Ignorance and Apathy?
  #32  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:48 PM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
You mean he's STILL here?
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 25,754
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
url=https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4383082]Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies[/url] may be bit longer than you're looking for, but this three-part 6-hour series is excellent.
They made a documentary from that? I missed it. That book was possibly the most interesting thing (certainly the longest most interesting thing) I've ever read!
  #33  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:51 PM
MEBuckner's Avatar
MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 12,020
I thought Contagion seemed to be* a far more realistic treatment of the "killer worldwide plague!!!" plot than Hollywood normally produces; and the scientists and doctors--mostly government employees to boot--while human, flawed, and capable of making some mistakes, were fundamentally portrayed as the heroes of the story.

It was rated PG-13 and has various parental cautions attached to it (Apollo 13 was a mere PG); so that might be an issue with trying to show it to high school students (whether or not any of the things discussed in that link should be problematic for high school students).

*IANA epidemiologist
__________________
"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." -- Carl Sagan

Ceterum censeo imperium Trumpi esse delendam
  #34  
Old 05-14-2019, 04:53 PM
MEBuckner's Avatar
MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 12,020
(Oh, and Contagion's not a true story--it's fiction, not a documentary--but, again, I thought it was very realistic and very well done.)
  #35  
Old 05-15-2019, 12:44 AM
terentii's Avatar
terentii is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Moscow/Toronto
Posts: 17,348
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Not so much the making Anning a lesbian, I'm OK with that, since we don't know her sexuality (although IMO it doesn't gel with her very religious nature). But Murchison was AFAIK quite devoted to her husband so it's a bit of a stretch. There's no correspondence or even rumour about her having affairs with anyone.
Yeah ... not that there's anything wrong with distorting history for the sake of being au courant.
__________________
Is it true the two greatest problems facing us today are Ignorance and Apathy?
  #36  
Old 05-15-2019, 03:48 AM
The_Peyote_Coyote is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 3,169
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Doctor Ehrlich's Magic Bullet

A movie about a mostly-forgotten doctor who discovered a treatment for syphilis. It was controversial when it came out in 1940, because it dealt with venereal disease. Somehow, it got made.

Starring Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Paul Ehrlich!


There's also The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), starring Paul Muni as Pasteur.
I saw that when I was in high school! It had one really scene where Dr. Ehrlich was explaining his work to some high-society women, and a couple of them got the fantods.
  #37  
Old 05-15-2019, 04:24 AM
The_Peyote_Coyote is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 3,169
Sorry. I meant to say really funny scene. I've been up too long.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:39 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017