Radioactive and Resistance….2 one word movie titles – review.

We’ve had about 3 weeks of rain recently. I’m itching to get out into the garden but it’s a sodden bog. I’m wondering whether the fact that we now have a pool instead of a lawn will add or detract from the property value.

What is there to do when you can’t go for a walk and you’re tired of reading? Not a lot if you’re still on coronavirus lockdown, but thankfully here in New Zealand at least we have the option of going to the movies. Focal Point Cinema in Hastings, where me and my wife are both members, had sent my wife a notification that she has a free ticket to any movie waiting for her because she’d just had a birthday. What a great excuse to go to the movies. AND on Monday and Tuesday afternoon sessions they throw in free coffee or tea and a variety of baked goods. Very yummy and well received.

There were 3 movies on the list that we wanted to see (the one we missed was The Burnt Orange Heresy) and since the other 2 were based on real peoples lives we decided to do a double header. The 12.30pm viewing of Radioactive – about Mme Curie’s life and work, followed by the 3pm showing of Resistance – a movie about mime artist Marcel Marceau’s time with the French Resistance during WW2. Both fascinating movies which set right some of my false assumptions about both people….for a start I thought that they were both French born, but Marie Curie – maiden name Maria Salomea Skłodowska – was born in Warsaw, Poland. And of course all I knew about Marcel Marceau was of his (annoying) mimes. I knew nothing of his heroics while with the resistance, nor that he was Jewish. But, back to the movies.

Radioactive – A story of the scientific and romantic passions of Marie Sklodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie, and the reverberation of their discoveries throughout the 20th century.

Rosamund Pike in the lead role was exceptional as the self absorbed Marie Curie who put her work above everything and everyone else in her life…..if the movie is to be taken at face value. What I can say is that she did a very good job at portraying a scientist who was outspoken and had a brilliant mind, but was in equal parts not a very likable person. A psychologist would have had a field day with this woman who was a bit of an enigma, being both self assured but also constantly seeing herself as a victim because she was a woman in what was otherwise a mans world. Indeed it was almost impossible for a woman to become a renown scientist back then because of gender prejudice. Even when she and husband, fellow scientist Pierre, were nominated in 1903 for the Nobel Prize in Physics, initially only Pierre’s name was on the citation. It was only after he had insisted that Marie deserved recognition for her contribution to the discovery of Radioactivity that her name was added and they both became recipients of the Nobel Prize.

However, she got the last laugh by becoming the only person, so far, to win a Nobel Prize in 2 separate scientific fields, in 1911, by winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Rosamund Pike is not an actress that I like to watch. That’s not because she isn’t good at her craft, she is perhaps too good an actress. Her portrayal of Mme Curie leaves me admiring the character’s single minded determination and brilliance as a scientist but as a wife and mother she is a dreadful wretch of a human being with few redeeming qualities….although she does soften toward the end of the movie.

Marie Curie quotes
Marie Curie – the sole woman surrounded by other scientists and professors…..including Albert Einstein.

There is a phrase spoken by Pierre Currie in the movie where he asks “The question can be raised whether mankind benefits knowing the secrets of nature”…. And that I think is a very valid question, the answer to which is hinted at in the movie by injecting little scenes of things that would happen in the future….that did happen since the discovery of radiation and radioactivity, such as the destructive power of the atomic bomb and the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, as well as the benefits of the Xray. It is an excellent question. Mankind (now Humankind because of our PC world) is meant to be the most intelligent species and yet we are the only species which has built the technology to destroy not only ourselves, but all life on earth, and we continue to put military spending over the welfare of people and planet. One could ask is that intelligence or stupidity? Are we actually advanced enough to handle the responsibility? Frankly I don’t think that we are.

The acting was very good, as were the costumes and film sets. The baron wastelands of WW1 battlefields were particularly thought provoking. If I was to rate it overall out of 5 stars I’d feel compelled to give it 4. Very much worth paying money to see on the big screen.

The second movie, Resistance, with Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role was entertaining and disturbing in turn. Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz it is about the French Resistance in WW2 and particularly about how mime artist Marcel Marceau – real name Marcel Mangel, a French born Jew – helped to smuggle hundreds of Jewish children out of France and over the mountains into Switzerland.

It’s a movie that shows both the best and the worst of humanity. The good being the number of people and organizations who put their own safety in jeopardy in order to save the lives of the Jewish orphans and the bad….the despicably wicked… as portrayed by French collaborators, the Nazi soldiers and particularly Klaus Barbie, aka the butcher of Lyon. Barbie (SS and Gestapo member) was renown for taking an active part in the murder and torture of prisoners, including the flaying alive of some unfortunate souls. By flaying alive I mean he removed the skin from the entirety of the victims body while they were still alive and then went home to his wife and child. If that is not the epitome of evil I don’t know what is.

Again, as in the previous movie, the acting was first class and we – the audience – come to absolutely hate and detest German actor Matthias Schweighöfer who plays the character of Barbie, (who incidentally has nothing at all to do with the doll by Mattel).

All joking aside it is a serious movie about life and death situations and the betrayal of the Jewish people by friends and neighbours out to protect their own self interests.

It’s a really good story about courage, relationships, the reliance we have on one another and about putting the lives of others before that of your own. I don’t want to give away much about the movie as it’s one that I think we should all see in order to understand and be witnesses to man’s inhumanity to his fellow man….and conversely the selflessness and goodness of mankind.

The “woke movement” would have us tear down statues of what they consider to be “bad people” and remove them from history, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the bad people and their atrocities in order to learn from them and hopefully not repeat them. Just my opinion.

Except for the final scene where Marcel is performing a mime in front of the American soldiers who helped liberate France, (at which point I would have gladly put a bullet through him myself – what can I say? Mime is just not my thing), I thought it was an excellent movie. Entertaining and thought provoking – it gets another 4 stars out of 5 from me.

As a last thought, I think we need to remember that in times of trouble, charismatic leaders can induce others to do things that they would not otherwise do. Hitler was a populist leader who presented to the German people the Jews as the cause of all Germany’s ills. A target for all Germany to unite against. The atrocities inflicted on the Jewish people by otherwise sane people was totally illogical and driven by unjust hatred. We are once more in troubled times, with charismatic leaders in charge of some countries and others waiting in the wings for the right conditions in order to take over and enforce their ideals on otherwise sane people. Please think and consider the humanity or inhumanity of your actions before you blindly follow orders.

Again many thanks for reading this post and thank you for likes, shares or comments….positive or negative.

3 thoughts on “Radioactive and Resistance….2 one word movie titles – review.

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