Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge review – sex and science in turn-of-the-century Europe

Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge review – sex and science in turn-of-the-century Europe

Academic affair … Karolina Gruszka as Marie Curie and Arieh Worthalter as Paul Langevin. Photograph: Swipe Films

Director Marie Noelle’s biopic about Marie Curie, the Polish-born chemist who was the first woman to win the Nobel prize, is something of a tacky treat. Roughly 35% science talk and 65% soap opera, it has adulterous shenanigans and a strong-willed heroine (Polish actor Karolina Gruszka) defying sexism, xenophobia and antisemitism (even though she isn’t Jewish) to make it in a male profession.

The first part unfolds in a non-toxic soft-focus haze, all sun dapples and smiles, as Marie and her beloved hubby Pierre (Charles Berling) bask in acclaim after their crucial research on radiation is recognised by the Nobel committee.

Pierre Mown Down

But when Pierre is tragically mown down by a carriage in the street. Marie must fight  albeit in a dignified, ladylike way to maintain her position within academic circles. Even when her affair with colleague Paul Langevin (Arieh Worthalter) becomes public knowledge she must fight. At one point, someone observes that Marie “glows like the radium she studies”, and her flirtation with Piotr Glowacki’s young Albert Einstein is rib-tickling froth. Nevertheless, this is no worse than many other schedule-filling docudramas. Curie deserves the recognition and there’s an honourable attempt to colour in the historical context with references to the Dreyfus affair and the political state of play in turn-of-the-century Europe.

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References:
  1.  “knowledge: definition of knowledge in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US)”oxforddictionaries.com. Archived from the original on 2010-07-14.
  2. Jump up^ Paul Boghossian (2007), Fear of Knowledge: Against relativism and constructivism, Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, Chapter 7, pp. 95–101.
  3. Jump up^ Dekel, Gil. “Methodology”. Retrieved 3 July 2006.
  4. Jump up^ Stanley Cavell, “Knowing and Acknowledging”, Must We Mean What We Say?(Cambridge University Press, 2002), 238–66.
  5. Jump up^ In Plato’s Theaetetus, Socrates and Theaetetus discuss three definitions of knowledge: knowledge as nothing but perception, knowledge as true judgment, and, finally, knowledge as a true judgment with an account. Each of these definitions is shown to be unsatisfactory.