This classic biopic focuses on six years of life of the French-Polish researcher Marie Curie, a modern woman who had to fight against the sexist prejudices of her time.
Marie Curie **
by Marie Noëlle French-German film, 1 hour 39
She is the woman of all records. Marie Sklodowska-Curie is the first woman to obtain a doctorate in physics, the first to be awarded two Nobel Prizes (one shared with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel), the first professor at the Sorbonne and the first to enter the Pantheon.
Given such titles, one is justified in thinking that belonging to the so-called weak sex was by no means a handicap for her. Marie Noëlle's film takes care of us.
"Child, I dreamed of devoting myself to science and Marie Curie was my model"It begins in 1904 when Marie Curie gives birth to her second daughter, Eve, and with Pierre she finally goes to Stockholm to receive their Nobel Prize in physics, awarded a year earlier for their work on radium and its impact on cancerous tumors - without knowing its harmful consequences on their health.
In 1906, Pierre Curie died by a car on horseback. Very affected, Mary must raise her daughters alone and prove to the scientific community that she was not only the modest wife of a genius.
"Child, I dreamed of devoting myself to science and Marie Curie was my model,"says Marie Noëlle, screenwriter and director of several films in Germany with her husband Peter Sehr.
The difficulties Marie Curie had to face as a womanHer biopic illuminates the researcher's work less than the difficulties she faced as a woman. While radium becomes the miracle element of facial creams, bath salts and even baby talc, Emile Amagat, member of the Academy of Sciences, opposes entry to the Academy of Mary Curie who, despite his Nobel Prize, is preferred to Édouard Branly.
When, five years after the death of her husband, the press reveals her affair with Paul Langevin, married with four children, public opinion is unleashed against "the Polonaise" who destroys a French family.
Although Polish actress Karolina Gruszka has a tendency to plague her aftershocks, she nonetheless constructs with conviction a passionate woman who succeeds in the challenge of giving everything to her people and her research.
For actors there are no downsides to leaving Instagram and the like. A star should radiate mystique, not false bonhomie and complaints about queues for the toilet
By Ryan Gilbey
Daisy Ridley is a smart cookie who has grasped at a young age that some people take the biscuit. She is 25 and doing the customary round of interviews to promote her new film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? She spoke to the Radio Times this week about her decision to quit Instagram after receiving abuse pertaining to her views on gun control.
In any other sphere, expressing a wish for gun violence to cease might be recognised as admirable. Not on social media, where controversy can be whipped up from nothing more than a poo emoji. In the ensuing furore, Ridley deactivated her account, and has now voiced concern that social media is “highly unhealthy for people’s mental health … It’s such a weird thing for young people to look at distorted images of things they should be.”
It’s refreshing to hear this. (How Disney will feel about it, in the middle of encouraging fans to tweet about their anticipation for #TheLastJedi, is another matter.) Ridley is not the first actor to leave a social media platform in response to treatment received there. Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the unfairly maligned Ghostbusters reboot, briefly quit Twitter last year after that film’s release was met with a campaign of abuse, much of it racist, directed against her.
The Call Me By Your Name actor Armie Hammer left last month, though his departure had more of the whiff of the hissy-fit about it, prompted as it was by criticism rather than abuse. Buzzfeed published an article comparing his privileged status to his tally of flops, entitled “Ten Long Years of Trying to Make Armie Hammer Happen”. Hammer responded by tweeting that the article was “bitter AF” and then absenting himself from Twitter.
Answering your critics is rarely a good look, and this was no exception, but at least the incident made the world understand that it isn’t only African-American women like Jones who face obstacles. Stories of the hardships suffered by white upper-class males must not go untold.
In the midst of acknowledging the dangers posed by social media to young people, Ridley shouldn’t overlook the negative effect it can have on another group of which she is a member: actors. They flock to social media to engage in some harmless round-the-clock self-promotion. They soak up the waves of adulation from fans hoping for a meagre reciprocating “like” or even a “hi”. But departing at the earliest opportunity, or never joining in the first place, is one of the best things any actor can do. Alongside being brilliantly talented. Nothing quite beats that.
The less the public knows about you, what you had for brunch and how much leg room you have in first class (see Hammer’s Instagram for further details), the more effectively you can disappear into a role. For an actor, there is no downside to leaving social media. It can only safeguard your mystique. You’ll have more time to work and think and read and research. Your feed won’t be clogged up with audience members messaging you to say that the drinks at the theatre where you gave your full-pelt Electra or your Othello last night were massively overpriced, and as for the queues in the toilets, well … which actor needs that? You go on stage or on film or television and you give your performance. It isn’t a debate; you’re not asking for questions or feedback or below-the-line comments.
he presence of actors on social media is damaging, too, from the audience’s point of view. It makes us think that they are our friends and that they want to hear from us. But they’re not and they don’t. If social media had been with us since the early days of cinema, we would have had a strikingly different relationship with our icons. Imagine squealing excitedly and fanning your clavicle because Bette Davis had “liked” the Instagram snap of your birthday barbecue (filter: Perpetua).
Robert Mitchum’s brooding, taciturn appeal would have been greatly diminished if he had tweeted from the set of The Night of the Hunter: “Chilling with my man Charlie L. Which side are you on? #Love #Hate.” How would it have affected your respect for Marlon Brando if you’d known he was only a tweet away and available for RT requests? (I can take all the outlandish Brando stories you’ve got – I love knowing that he suggested playing Superman’s father in the style of a suitcase or a green bagel – but please don’t ever suggest he was approachable.) And how different Greta Garbo’s “I want to be alone” would have sounded expressed as a tweet.
Ryan Gilbey is film critic of the New Statesman and writes on film for the Guardian, Sunday Times and Sight & Sound
A cartoonist and a climate scientist teamed up in with paper and made a book. By Nexus Media with Tom Toles and Michael Mann
Tom Toles: Humor is certainly a part of it. One of the challenges in climate change is it’s not a funny subject. Humor tends to either be reassurance humor or attack humor — and political cartooning tends to be more along the attack lines. In that regard, there have certainly been a large number of targets, people who have been in the way of progress.
But the other thing a cartoon does is simplify and visualize and make the information a little more accessible. Climate is not as complicated a subject as everyone makes it out to be, and that’s one of the things a cartoonist can do is find the simple elements of it. There are many ways you can look at the problem, but they all can be simplified into imagery, or a few ideas that are helpful in explaining to a casual reader how the subject is constructed and why they should care about it.
Michael Mann: There’s so much layering of information and nuance in Tom’s cartoons. They get at the science, but at the same time they get at the politics and the hypocrisy of climate-change-denying politicians. Somehow he’s able to do in a single cartoon what takes me half a chapter to describe in words. Sometimes there’s a message that’s being delivered but it’s almost subliminal. In our book, the cartoons and the text compliment each other.
For example, there’s a chapter in the book: “Hypocrisy, thy name is climate change denial.” In my view, there is no greater example of hypocrisy today than the hypocrisy of fossil-fuel funded politicians who are doing the bidding of fossil fuel interests. With Hurricane Matthew, we’ve actually had some figures from the right-wing extreme of the news media — Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh — accusing the National Hurricane Center of inflating their estimates of the intensity of this storm for some purported political agenda to somehow convey the effects of climate change.
For individuals who haven’t seen the raw data, it wouldn’t be a stretch for some to think of something as creative, and dishonest, as making up a data point.
Toles: This is why the argument has bogged down so badly. The point that I’m trying to get at in my cartoons is to, in simplified form, get at the actual facts and the actual truth. Now, the other side has engaged in a lot of data gathering and dispensing, but for exactly the opposite purpose: confusing the issue and confusing the public for the reason of preventing policy action.
So you could ask, “How does a general reader differentiate between the two apparent mirror image approaches that both claim to be true and both claim that the other side is lying?” That’s the reason the opposition has taken that tactic, because it is hard for a general reader, sometimes. The answer to that is 1) read the book, which explains the science and the reasoning behind the science in very plain, easy to understand terms, and 2) try to shed your preconceptions and ask yourself some basic questions such as, “If I’m not a climate scientist, who should I listen to?” The answer is you should probably listen to climate scientists.
My answer to that is you have to be most suspicious of all when one side of the argument keeps changing their reasons for a conclusion, a predetermined conclusion, i.e. “Don’t do anything.” The conclusion never changes, the reasons always do change — that’s a dead giveaway for poor reasoning, and probably the wrong side of the argument.
Mann: That’s what we call epistemic closure. More evidence and more consensus just proves that the conspiracy runs deeper and wider. There’s no way out of it, it’s an internally closed loop of bad logic and ideologically motivated belief.
A climate scientist and a cartoonist are an interesting pair — how did you come to collaborate?
Mann: In my previous book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, we used a couple of Tom’s cartoons, that ultimately led to our publisher suggesting we combine forces — use the knowledge base that I had as a scientist working in the field of climate change, and my experience as one type of communicator, and then have Tom come at it from a completely different direction, using art and satire.
In a sense, we’re combining our right and left brains. I’m the left-brain scientist and Tom is the right-brain artist — it’s a simplification of course — bringing our approaches and our methods and our expertise together and melding them to talk about this existential challenge, this crisis, and maybe break through the morass that still exists in the public discourse on climate change.
Toles: I approach climate a little differently from Michael. He came at it strictly through the science, and I approached it as a cartoonist, as a communicator, and my understanding of it came not out of the laboratory but out of the same news media that everyone else has access to.
And one of the things I wanted to do as a cartoonist is make up for some of the deficit with which the national media was treating climate change. When I started reading about it, it sounded like a potentially immense problem and I was a little surprised and dismayed that the media treated it so casually — or not at all. To a certain extent, that’s still going on. The Paris Accord that just took effect got pretty scant coverage for such an important thing. I did a cartoon on that as yet another way to get coverage on such an important subject.
The opportunity to talk and interact with somebody who understands the subject at every level down has been a treat and an education for me.
Who are some of the cartoonists who have inspired you?
Toles: The foremost contender for that role is Gary Trudeau and [his strip] Doonesbury. He’s been pretty consistent on a lot of social issues, and some scientific issues. While Gary Larson, of The Far Side, was not exactly an advocate for anything in particular, he did seem to have a peculiar and consistent interest in scientific subjects. While he was often very absurdist in his cartoons, it was enjoyable and often he would be getting at a subtle scientific method or truth.
But, the environmental movement in political cartoons is very strong and longstanding, it went way back before Rachel Carson and the modern era of environmentalism to Teddy Roosevelt and the early 20th century idea of wilderness and the national parks. My predecessor at the Post, Herblock, who worked until he was 93 years old, went way back, and I think some of his earliest cartoons were environmental ones, all the way back to the 1920s.
Mann: Even though I’m a scientist, I’m also very passionate about communicating the science and its implications to the public, I’m always trying to learn new tools and new approaches, thinking outside the box a s a communicator. Satire and artistic approaches have so much to offer when it comes to breaking through to the public.
That’s the underlying inspiration for our book. I’ve been presenting facts and figures and data for years, as have many of my colleagues, such as those at the National Academy of Sciences, and somehow we haven’t broken through, because in the end the obstacle is less about scientific understanding than it is about politically motivated opposition and entrenched interests trying to prevent progress.
One of the most powerful images in the book is of a penguin and a polar bear meeting on floating icebergs, their habitats erased. Your cartoon is pretty in-your-face with what’s at stake.
Toles: The penguin and the polar bear was yet another way to find an image to grab people’s attention. I took something that they know — that polar bears live at the north pole and penguins live at the south pole, and climate change is going to have an effect on both places — and brought in the plight of ecosystems and the unnatural meeting of these two species that wouldn’t normally be together, even though they both live in icy areas. It was one more way to bring the topic home to people, to bring two things together that don’t go together — but in a way they do now. The idea of trying to find ways to think about an issue other than as a muddle of indistinct data, then to bring it home visually, compellingly.
Mann: There is the danger that when we make the polar bear the sole poster child of climate change. It makes it seem like its this far-off, exotic threat. So we have to bring it home, how it is impacting us now, where we live, whether it’s food or water or national security or health or what have you.
But I also care about the sort of world we leave behind — for my daughter, for her children for her grandchildren — do we really want to leave a fundamentally degraded planet with major losses of animal species and ecosystems? Even if we could survive, even if we persist, we would persist in a world that lacks so much of the wonder and beauty of the world that we grew up in. We just don’t want that for our children and grandchildren. It’s about leaving this place better off than we found it.
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The new era of space strategy By Kelsey D. Atherton
Space, officially, is at peace. The Outer Space Treaty from 1967 declared space free from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and with remarkably few known exceptions, space exists as a weapon-free place. But the absence of weapons does not mean the absence of targets, and with everything from GPS to reconnaissance to communications requiring earth-orbiting bundles of electronics, figuring out how to protect space is an ongoing challenge. At the Atlantic Council, James Hasik of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security contemplates two ideas for space defense: scorched orbit, and systems protecting systems.
The first, which I’m calling “scorched orbit” but could also be called "space denial," involves a known hazard of space: clouds of debris colliding at high speeds with delicate equipment.
Hasik writes: [Gravity] does illustrate one of the potential outcomes of a war in Earth orbit—the Kessler effect of runaway collisions with cascading volumes of debris. That issue also gets to the trouble with countermeasures in space. As one of the attendees at our subsequent luncheon observed, deploying chaff to defend satellites might not be the best idea, as “it tends to hang around.” Chaff was developed during the Second World War, but as another discussant pointed out, it wasn’t the only solution initially proffered to the radar problem, whether over the Rhineland in the 1940s or North Vietnam in the 1960s.
The Air Force contemplated chaff defense in the 1960s, Hasik notes, but releasing clouds of debris to deflect radar-guided missiles (like airplanes did over Vietnam) in space is a short term strategy. The missile may not hit, but then there’s a cloud of debris also in orbit, which could collide with and tear through other space objects. Not fantastic, if people want to keep using space.
The other approach identified by Hasik is the “Battlestar Strategy.” Named after the eponymous starships from Battlestar Galactica, the technique borrows from aircraft carrier strategy with layers of protection, including long- and short-range missiles and other craft. Adopting such a space defense is tricky in part because it likely means putting weapons in space (or announcing the use of earth-based missiles to defend space targets).
Another alternative, mentioned by Hasik here and put forth by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Peter Garretson last week, means changing the targets in space. Instead of relying on a few big satellites, where losing a single one is a big blow, spreading the capabilities around to lots of smaller satellites means the infrastructure of space is resilient against attacks.
Making that strategy work requires a change in launches onto the ground: to get lots of small satellites in orbits means more launches, at lower cost than the current expensive standard, with some tolerance for failure. It seems to be the direction space business is going.
Read more: Series 9 Protocol Treaty: The fertilizer Factory
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