The amazing and extraordinary lives of female scientists are rarely portrayed in movies and TV shows. If so, at least not in the form of biopics, dramas, or documentaries. Most commonly, females are depicted as superheroes in science fiction movies or as glamorized characters in TV shows. That’s why we listed nine movies to watch that are based on the lives of female scientists.
Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge (2016)
It is the biography of chemist and physicist Marie Curie. The film follows the life of a scientist and the struggle she has to go through for her recognition in a male-dominated society in the early 20th century in France after the deaths of her husband and her colleague. The movie unfolds the life of 2 Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie as she confronts personal tragedies and overcomes the social barrier in science.
The film delves into the couple’s scientific collaboration, highlighting their dedication and passion for research. It also portrays the challenges they face as they navigate the scientific community, where they encounter skepticism and prejudice due to their unconventional research methods and Marie’s gender.
The Radioactive movie also focuses on the love and life of Marie Curie. Following all of Curie’s extraordinary scientific discoveries, this movie mainly focuses on the negative side effects of her discovery of radiation. The movie shows flashbacks and montages of the bombing of Hiroshima and nuclear testing in Nevada. The heart of the film centers around Marie and Pierre Curie’s discovery of two new elements, polonium, and radium, and their pioneering work on radioactivity. Their groundbreaking research led to the development of the theory of radioactivity and earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, making Marie the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize.
The film also explores the challenges Marie Curie faced in the scientific community and the media due to her gender, as well as the tragic consequences of her exposure to radiation during her research. Despite the adversity, Marie’s passion for science and her determination to uncover the secrets of radioactivity remain unwavering.
Madame Curie (1943)
The beauty of the movie is that it is a chronicle not only of Curie’s legendary achievements in science but also of how she managed to accomplish them during her lifespan. Curie was doing her radioactive research for years in a leaky, run-down shed, which was her makeshift lab behind the School of Physics in Paris. Throughout the movie, we see her conducting four years of experiments as she melts down Pitchblende to remove all the known components from the ore.
The movie portrays Curie’s tenacity, imagination, and relentless lab work. The film is based on the biography ‘Marie Curie’, which was written by her own daughter Eve and published only four years after her death in 1938.
Jane is a National Geographic movie that follows the groundbreaking work of Jane Goodall. Jane fearlessly and without any hesitation integrated herself into the community of chimpanzees, something that no man of that time would dare to do. She was studying and pioneered a methodology of observation that allowed scientists to gain a new understanding of what it means to be human. She also proved that women could be successful as scientists in a world previously dominated by men. The movie shows Jane’s exploration and journey of her work. The movie also shows her relationship with her husband and her focus and curiosity towards chimpanzees.
Nise: The Heart of Madness (2015)
It is a docudrama that led the viewers to the life of Nis da Silvera, a pioneer of occupational therapy. Nice at that time rejected the procedure of using electroshock and lobotomy to treat schizophrenic patients. Instead of that, she seeks to heal them by developing their artistic talents.
The film is set in the 1940s at the Pedro II Psychiatric Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nise da Silveira is a newcomer to the institution, where she is assigned to work in the occupational therapy department. Nise is a rebellious and unconventional psychiatrist who challenges the established methods of treating mental illness at the time. The film offers a thought-provoking and inspiring glimpse into the life of a remarkable woman who used her innovative methods to bring hope and healing to those suffering from mental illness.
Mission Blue (2014)
This is an Emmy-award-winning documentary that follows Dr. Sylvia Earle, an environmentalist, oceanographer, and marine biologist who is on a mission to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries. The movie is very fun to watch, and it is also interesting. The movie not only depicts Slyvia’Pathth as one of the best female marine biologists and ocean explorers but also encourages the female to explore the ocean. The movie also highlighted what mankind has done to our oceans in the past 50 years or so.
If you really care about this planet Earth, you don’t want to miss this film.
Picture a Scientist (2020)
Released in 2020, Picture a Scientist is a documentary that highlights the groundswell of women changing the face of science as it also celebrates women pioneers in various scientific fields today. It also highlights the continued challenges faced by women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education and STEM careers. In the documentary, the leading female scientist discussed their paths and hurdles faced by them regarding inequalities.
The film comprises biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring. All these amazing women lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of hard work.
Female scientist has always been looked down upon by their male peers. This was especially true when you are a black woman mathematician in the 1960s. Worked at NASA’S Langley Research Center Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan are real-life mathematicians. At the time their workplace was segregated by race and gender. These amazing women were called ‘computers’. Their job was to work out the math to advance the space program.
The movie highlights Katherine Johnson’s highly complex calculations to determine the safest trajectory for astronaut John Glenn’s first space flight in 1962. The movie also shows that these Black women overcame the challenges of having their brilliant intellects and accomplishments recognized by their white colleagues and supervisors. The movie is based on Margo Lee Shetterly’s 2016 book of the same name.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)
This documentary shows the life and career of Hedy Lamarr, the actress and inventor. It explores her role in developing frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology, which contributed to the development of modern wireless communication. The documentary sheds light on Hedy Lamarr’s remarkable intellect and inventive mind. Contrary to her glamorous image on the silver screen, Lamarr had a keen interest in science and technology, and she often spent her free time tinkering with inventions.
The documentary explores Lamarr’s later years, as she lived a relatively private life and struggled with personal challenges. It also emphasizes the importance of recognizing her as not only a glamorous actress but also a brilliant inventor whose work influenced the technological landscape of the 21st century.
If you have watched any other movie based on female scientists that have inspired you and changed the way you think of the world, please share that in the comment section.