Physicists on film

Last night we went to the movies. We had free passes that needed using by the end of the week, so we turned up at Chartwell early evening without knowing what was showing. Not wishing to see a film about adultery, we decided against ‘Water for Elephants’ (or whatever it’s called) and picked Thor. 

If you haven’t seen this film, I’ve got just one word of advice. Don’t. We paid nothing for it, and it was  worth nearly every cent. It takes a ridiculous scenario, embellished with wooden acting, mixed with overcooked special effects, and held together with a plot so transparent you could stick it in a frame and call it a window. I can only think that Antony Hopkins was paid a huge amount for his appearance in a film that clearly didn’t deserve his presence.  

And then there is the gripe with the physicist characters. Three of the characters are physicists. They are portrayed as sad losers, with no friends, a single-minded focus on astrophysics, driving a van packed with electronics with lots of flashing LEDs and ‘beep’ and ‘ping’ sounds. Seldom do we see on film physicist characters who bear much relation to real physicists. True, it’s a (bad) work of fiction, and their relativity obsession was rather essential to what passed for the plot, but how much does that portrayal influence people’s thinking about what physicists are like.  I wonder. All I can say is real physicists aren’t like that.

But given that rather few people are likely to go and see this film, I guess the impact is hardly going to be significant.

One thought on “Physicists on film”

  • I doubt that the film will have any impact on perceptions of physicists, who are already fixed for all time as obsessive, emotionally retarded eccentrics with manic hair. Get over it. Welcome to my world: librarians are pedantic, dried-up spinsters in glasses who spend their time sucking lemons and sushing people. Physicists are at least meant to have an unworldly intelligence, even if requiring firm guidance. Librarians are just small-minded.

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