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Madame Curie Reviews

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flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2009
If your intent is to study classic Hollywood melodramatics or the talents of Greer Garson & Walter Pidgeon then this is your film. However, if you're looking for substantial insight into the prestigious career and accomplishments of Marie Curie you will no doubt be sorely disappointed.
jjnxn
jjnxn

Super Reviewer

November 23, 2009
Stiff, self important film of a brilliant woman. Greer is fine if a bit grand but the usually wonderful Pidgeon is wooden and declamatory.
John B

Super Reviewer

December 11, 2013
Pidgeon and Garson get together often in films. This is their depiction of the Curies with Madame Curie as the more famous of the two. This is only a very passable biopic though. It's nice to know the story but it really needs some additional life.
jam233
August 29, 2009
For whatever reason, I love this movie, certainly more than most of the reviews I have read. Greer Garson is absolutely wonderful. The production values are top notch, excellent direction and inspiring screenplay. It's beautifully done.
October 28, 2013
Like other films from this era, the emotion of the story is somewhat aggrandized, but it's anchored by Garson's determination and wit and by Pidgeon's humble charm.
Robyn M.
October 11, 2012
Beautiful Bio-pic about the first Influential Female Scientist to Win a Noble Peace Price and Invent a new Element for the Periodic Charts. Greer is Fantastic, the film itself is slow and somewhat compressed and repressed for storyline. But Curie's Ingenious foretelling of Radiation crystallizing Uranium paths the way to future scientist who continue to use her methods.

*Spoilers Alert* Pierre Curie's death is documented and played out at the end, however the radical heroin (Marie) builds a legend for her famous Element findings and outlast the film with a powerful speech followed by Credits. In real life Marie miraculously lives to the age of 66 and passes away from Radiation/ mercury poisoning onset from her years of studying and experimenting with Chemical reactions.

The damaging effects of ionising radiation were not then known, and much of her work had been carried out in a shed, without the safety measures that were later developed. Her health also was ground breaking in the Science/ Medical field as Curie was the first to present unusual symptoms and death by Radiation.
gillianren
September 17, 2012
A Love Affair--of Science!

Actually, I think the importance of Polish independence to Our Heroine would have made a bit of a stirring message in 1943, were it not that the country Poland was trying to become independent from in that earlier time was then one of our allies, and you wouldn't want to do anything to risk the alliance. While the movie is in large part the story of the discovery of radium, with a love story thrown in to lighten the science, we don't even get a mention of the discovery of polonium. We don't get the information that she named an element after her beloved homeland, despite the fact that she never lived there during her working years. The general public did not, in 1943, know the importance radioactivity was about to assume in their day-to-day lives, but the stirring story of a Polish woman and her French husband was the kind of thing that helped remind Americans that they were fighting for more than just themselves.

Maria Skłodowska (Greer Garson) was born in the Russian part of Poland, and she is now living in Paris and studying chemistry, physics, and of course mathematics. One of her professors, Jean Perot (Albert Bassermann), finds her a job and a corner of a lab to do her work in. The lab is that of Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon), who is one of the many people who believe that women have no place in science. However, he comes to develop an affection for her, and when she graduates and says she's going back to Poland to teach, he realizes that he loves her. They get married, and they agree that they must continue to work together. One day, Henri Becquerel (Reginald Owen) showed Marie, and she is called in French, and Pierre the picture he has taken with the rays which will come to be called X-Rays. She and Pierre then work to isolate what they believe is a new element from pitchblende, one which is responsible for the unusual findings their experiments produce.

I am not an expert on the lives of the Curies by any stretch, though the first biography of Marie Curie I ever read was a ValueTales available at my elementary school library. ([i]The Value of Learning[/i]; I don't remember what her imaginary friend was.) However, I think the history and science are both about as accurate as you're going to get out of a biopic made in that era. Leaving aside the Poland thing, of course. Also there's the fact that Lord Kelvin (C. Aubrey Smith) in this movie is best described as "avuncular." I'm not sure if this is even chronologically correct; there was an early stretch where he didn't believe in X-Rays at all and thought they were a hoax, though this was no longer true later in his life. Certainly he was not as inclined to consider anyone else to be nearly so great as he was, and I don't see him as terribly likely to think that anyone deserved to make a discovery on their own. I know, for example, that he always assumed he would get the best scores on exams and once sent someone to find out who'd gotten the second-highest mark. He had.

There is a certain amount of truth to the idea that the general public would not be too interested in a movie just about the discovery of radium. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, because the discovery of radium was a lot of hard, boring work. I don't even just mean that from the perspective of a non-scientist. I'm quite certain that even in the moment, Marie and Pierre thought a lot of the work was boring. It was lengthy and repetitive. It involved repeating a lot of work over and over again for a long time. Remember that the most important final step in the whole thing is letting water evaporate. There is no way of making that interesting. There just isn't. I'm sure there are people who are interested in every step of the process; they want to know exactly which acids and things are used in each step of the process, and even they don't want to watch the water evaporate. In the movie, Marie and Pierre go home and go to bed, and I have no doubt that's what really happened.

Some time ago, I came across a list of the female scientists that everyone should know about. Marie wasn't on it, doubtless on the grounds that everyone knows about her, and these weren't the three female scientists everyone actually already does know about. However, it's worth noting that Irčne Curie (Margaret O'Brien) did make it onto the list; she is one of the other Nobel laureates of the Curie family. I think in many ways life was easier for her. Part of it was that she was born in France; quite a lot of her mother's problems were because her mother was Polish--they were compounded by the claim that she was Jewish, not the most popular thing to be at the time. However, Irčne had the distinct advantage of coming at a time after her mother had proven that there was a place for women in the hard sciences. Those doors still aren't quite as open as the Curie women would have hoped, I think, but they're a heck of a lot more open now because of the work they did.
August 18, 2011
Wow! Fan favorite Greer Garson is Marie, a young chemist studying with renowned scientist Pierre Curie, who's of course played by Walter Pidgeon. They fall in love, and work together to figure out what now is known as radium, an element which, at that time was not yet discovered. Though eventually they do discover it, tragedy ensues, causing harm in this legendary household. Greer Garson is (in my opinion) the 1940's version of Greta Garbo (which is funny considering they have the same initials). Like Garbo, Garson was having one box-office and critical success after another, winning an Oscar for "Mrs. Miniver", but also getting nominated non-stop after that, in fact so many times, it has been tied with Bette Davis' nomination streak from 1938-1942. This movie (unlike many of her other films) was awarded with many nominations other than her acting, and everyone is hard not to disagree on. Biopic's were hot, and always brought in audiences. Watching many, I have discovered that it seems the director always focuses on romance, and fictionalizes everything else in the process. But with "Madame Curie", Mervyn LeRoy does anything but. Yes, there is romance, but not the kind you'd see in most. The main focus in the Curies' study of radium, which actually becomes very entertaining with Garson and Pidgeon's excellent acting. Parts of it remind me of "CSI": so many big words! Thankfully, the twosome have the same chemistry they had in "Mrs. Miniver" and are very believable as a married couple. So many moments are emotional, dramatic, and sad, yet not one minute is overdone, and they handle it as people would in real life. "Madame Curie" is a great look into biopics, and I recommend it highly.
jazza923
June 11, 2005
For whatever reason, I love this movie, certainly more than most of the reviews I have read. Greer Garson is absolutely wonderful. The production values are top notch, excellent direction and inspiring screenplay. It's beautifully done.
andalusia
May 21, 2004
The movie [i]Madame Curie[/i] was based on the true story of Pierre and Marie Curie, the first to discover radium. From what I know of the story (which admittedly isn't much), the movie is very accurate in terms of what happened and how things happened. With all things, there is dramatization, but I found it to be less so in this film.

It's a beautiful film about amazing people that only gets stopped up by stilted dialogue and some bad acting, but in this case, all of this is made up for in the story and how the movie is pieced together. There's some great effects here--one that especially stuck out in my mind is the night that Pierre proposes to Marie--the camera is simply focusing on the staircase and the two doors in the Curie household, with light under Pierre's. You can see his shadow, pacing around.

They also made good with the soundtrack--it didn't stick out to me as cheesy or typical--it fit right into the background of the film. The film makers also used silence to their advantage, however. When Marie and Pierre's father are at the house, waiting for him to return for the ceremony that night, and Pierre's father is finding out about his death, they show Marie getting suspicious, and the silence is just uncomfortable.

Overall, this film was very enjoyable, and while I was watching, I couldn't help but think that Marie Curie is exactly the right kind of female role model for girls to have. (I also couldn't help thinking that it was fantastic that early Hollywood made a movie about this intelligent woman and actually focus on her science.)

[b]A-[/b]

Next up in older films: [i]Hotel Berlin[/i]
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