Unlike historic women of science Hypatia and Ada Lovelace, Marie Sklodowska or “Madame Curie” was not lost to the fickle fingers of recorded history. This is due in part to being the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903; but wait, she was nominated only after a struggle, and literally received one-quarter (25%) of that Nobel, though later followed by a solo award in 1911 for Chemistry. Now ask yourself, given this formidable resume, who would you cast to play her?
Enter GONE GIRL’s Rosamund Pike, the British actor who has been on Hollywood’s radar since DIE ANOTHER DAY. In RADIOACTIVE, available now from Amazon on Prime Video, Pike shows her mettle and steely brilliance as an updated version of Madame Curie.
Not brash, nor a rule-breaker in her polite insistent daily life of the period, this fin de siècle-leaning Marie Curie blows open the subatomic world with her scientist husband Pierre Curie, to the degree that an element they discover, Polonium, will be named for her home country of Poland. Not to mention Radium, atomic number 88, their better-known subatomic discovery, that became the basis of x-ray technology.
Get this, the actual French word “radio-actif” was invented by the Curies, hence the fitting title RADIOACTIVE in its English iteration. But wait, there’s more, the curie, or Ci, is the unit measurement for radioactivity, with the caveat that it is a non-SI unit, meaning non-International System unit, but still cited in the SI (Système Internationale).
Okay, that’s enough subatomic ballyhoo. Science fans and everyone else will adore Rosamund Pike in this film because she is a multi-dimensional woman, who has an affair, gets embroiled in a scandal, and is as resilient as any contemporary counterpart would dare to be. Much like her bespoke “radio-actif”, Curie’s persona is shining and active as the word’s Latin roots reveal.
While Marie Curie born in 1867 would die this month, July, in 1934 in Savoy, France, her legacy continues not only in schools and universities, in labs and hospitals, but also in this un-missable embodiment by Rosamund Pike. See it, and remember, this is about a woman who authored “Recherches sur les Substances Radioactives (Investigations on radioactive substances)” in (1904), “L’Isotopie et les Eléments Isotopes (Isotopy and isotopic elements)” and penned the seminal “Traité de radioactivité (Treatise on radioactivity)” in 1910.
RADIOACTIVE is based on “Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout” by Lauren Redniss, no slouch herself as a Guggenheim Fellow and “genius grant” MacArthur Foundation alum. Catch it on Prime Video, or wait it elsewhere (just kidding, ps, don’t do that!).
Pike’s Pixel Perfect Portrait of a Paragon of Perseverance in Physics
What Amazon Says Officially About RADIOACTIVE
From the 1870s through our 21st century, RADIOACTIVE tells the story of pioneering scientist Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) through her extraordinary life and her enduring legacies – the passionate partnerships, her shining scientific breakthroughs, and the darker consequences that followed.
Directed by Marjane Satrapi
Written by Jack Thorne
Based on the book by Lauren Redniss
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley and Anya Taylor-Joy
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