Amazon Studios’ new release Radioactive starring Rosamund Pike takes us on a roller coaster ride as it depicts the origin of major time in the history of science and technology and the disasters that the world has seen as a repercussion to it. Radioactive revolves around the major breakthrough in history achieved by the most brilliant two-time Nobel prize winner, Marie Curie who discovered radioactivity while extracting the two elements radium and polonium. The movie depicts the hardships and rejection that she has to face to ultimately change the face of science and technology of those times.
Curie quotes “Science is changing and the very people who are running science are the people who believe the world was flat and I’m gonna prove them wrong. ”
The movie starts with Curie being dragged in a hospital corridor where she recollects her past. The journey which she took with her husband, Pierre Curie to discover the two important elements of periodic table radium and polonium. The movie also shows us that while the two scientists were on their height of excellence with their hope that the discovery will lead to a better society, little did they know the repercussions of it. As Pierre accepts the Nobel Prize in Stockholm, the film leaps ahead in time to present to us the bombing of Hiroshima. The irony was vividly captured by the director as the acceptance speech of Pierre goes as
“I am one of those who believe, with Nobel, that mankind will derive more good than harm from these new discoveries”
The most drastic of these interludes was when Marie was at her lowest crying on the streets because of the loss of her husband, Pierre, and the frame takes us to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. There has also been an instance where the positive effects of these new discoveries were shown when a doctor was curing a child ailing with cancer, using radiation which was only possible because of the discovery by Marie and Pierre Curie. In spite of these achievements, the new discovery made both Marie Curie and Pierre Curie and all the other scientists involved in the process diseased. But awareness took a long time to occur. The sorrow which came with these discoveries was captured in the scene where she asks her daughter who was set on the same path as her, to stay away from this work.
“I spent my entire life surrounded with death and radiation, and they brought me very little happiness.”
But she clearly understood that no one could stop her daughter from achieving what she was meant to as no one did for her. The movie beautifully captures the struggle of Marie Curie from nothing to a two-time Nobel Prize winner. The fight she fought the various characters on her journey, be it the fellow scientists in the laboratory or the whole world itself, she never became complacent.
“When have other people’s opinions affected anything after”
The discoveries which she made at a time when the world was not ready to accept it and had to bear the public wrath as she was spat on, and considered a “dirty polish, who invented a poison”. The movie takes our heart away when she confesses to a longtime friend, Paul Langevin, “I’m bored of strong. I don’t want to be strong, I want to be weak.”
Radioactive also ends on a pleasing note, showing Marie working on the battlefield in World War I, curing the soldiers along with her daughter Irene. She saved millions of lives using her mobile radiography units for X-raying the soldiers.
The most moving scene of the movie cannot be other than the one, where she visits all those affected and cured because of her discoveries, the child being radiated for cancer treatment, the Chernobyl survivors, her husband, and fellow scientists, and her mother she lost in early childhood. She wakes up from these visions to her husband who walks her out of the hospital, when she confesses, “there is too much to do”.
Radioactive is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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