Scientists. They are ordinary human beings but with extraordinary ways of thinking and the knowledge to physically manifest their thoughts. Newton taught us about forces, Einstein taught us about energy and Tesla taught us about electricity. Alexander Graham Bell gave us the telephone, Johannes Gutenberg gave us the printing machine and John Logie Baird gave us the television. It is pioneers like them who have made us live out our daily lives as we do today. It is them who have made the world what it is today, with all our science and technology. Of course, movies will be made on them. While some films like The Prestige involve the legendary Nikola Tesla in a fictionalized form, here are eight biographical films based on such scientists:
The Imitation Game (2014) – Alan Turing
Directed by Morten Tyldum, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, a pioneering English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and biologist. The film has an interesting historical take on Turing’s work, focusing on his cryptanalyst skills.
The Theory of Everything (2014) – Stephen Hawking
The film deals with Jane Wild Hawking’s relationship with her ex-husband, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of the motor neurone disease, and his success in physics. Directed by James Marsh, the film is adapted by Anthony McCarten from Jane’s memoir – ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.’
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016) – Srinivasa Ramanujan
Starring our very own Dev Patel, the film is directed by Matthew Brown and is based on the 1991 book of the same name by Robert Kanigel. It is about mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who grew up in Madras before gaining admission at Cambridge University during World War I.
A Beautiful Mind (2001) – John Nash
The four-time Oscar-winning film is based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel laureate in Economics. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe, the film depicts how the mathematician develops paranoid schizophrenia.
Creation (2009) – Charles Darwin
The film, directed by Jon Amiel and starring a real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as Charles and Emma Darwin, is partly biographical and partly fictionalized. Torn between faith and science, while suffering hallucinations, English naturalist Charles Darwin struggles to write on his greatest work of scientific literature – “On the Origin of Species”.
The Secret of Nikola Tesla (1980) – Nikola Tesla
The Yugoslavian film depicts everything about the genius – right from how his inventions were stolen, his battles with fellow scientists, and his greatest contribution to mankind, which remains a mystery to this day. Directed by Krsto Papic, the film stars Petar Bozovic in the titular role.
Einstein and Eddington (2008) – Albert Einstein
Directed by Philip Martin, the TV movie is a drama about the development of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity as well as British scientist Sir Arthur Eddington, the first physicist to experimentally prove Einstein’s ideas.
Galileo (1968 and 1975) – Galileo Galilei
There were two films made about the 17th century scientist. Both depict the life of Galileo Galilei, including his clash with the Catholic Church regarding the interpretation of his astronomical observations with his newly invented telescope.