4 Great Movies about the One and Only Marie Curie

Marie Curie was one of the most important and influential scientists of all time.
Christopher McFadden

Marie Sklodowska Curie, Marie Curie for short, was one of the most important scientists of all time. Her work on radioactivity would help change the world beyond all recognition.

She helped discovered two new elements, won two not one Nobel Prizes (the first person to ever do so) and helped saved lives during the First World War.

She was the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize and hold a professorship at the Sorbonne.


What is Marie Curie most famous for?

Marie Curie, Maria Sklodowska at birth, was a visionary Polish chemist and physicist best known for her work in the field of radiation. Most notably, she (and her husband) were the first to discover the elements Radium and Polonium (named after her homeland of Poland).

Initially prohibited from entering higher education in Poland, she moved to Paris in the 1890s and studied at the Sorbonne. Here she met and later married, her husband Pierre Curie who was a noted scientist at the time.

Together they soon began to experiment with radiation, most notably with the element Uranium. The very term "radioactivity" was actually coined by Marie to describe the emission of uranic rays.

For their groundbreaking work, the couple would receive the 1906 Nobel Prize for Physics with Henri Becquerel. Henri was the first person to discover evidence for the existence of radioactivity.

The couple used their share of the money prize to continue funding their own research.

Her husband, Pierre, suddenly died in a road accident in 1906, and Marie took over his position as a professor at the Sorbonne. This made her the very first woman to ever hold this prestigious post.

Marie also won a second Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911 for her further work on Radium and its compounds. An impressive achievement in and of itself, but this was the first time any scientist had won two Nobel Prizes ever. 

Marie Curie photo
Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

But her great achievements wouldn't end there. During the First World War, Curie helped the war effort by developing portable X-Ray machines to help field medics treat wounded soldiers. 

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Post-war she founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centers of medical research today. 

What did Marie Curie die of?

Today it would come as no surprise that her life's work in the study of radiation must have taken its toll on her body. This is exactly what happened, and her many years handling radioactive materials, and her radiological work at WW1 field hospitals led to the development of aplastic anemia.

This would prove fatal, and she died in 1934, at the age of 66. 

Aplastic anemia is a rare disease where the body fails to produce blood cells in sufficient volumes. When working properly, the human body produces blood cells from stem cells in their bone marrow. 

Aplastic Anemia disrupts this process and all blood types from red and white blood cells to platelets are not produced in enough quantity. Apart from radiation exposure, other causes include heredity, infection, and exposure to chemicals and drugs. But, it should be noted that around 50% of cases have no apparent causal factor. 

The disease is very debilitating and leaves the patient fatigued, pale and suffer from tachycardia (high resting heart rate). They can also be more prone to bleeding and bruising and have a higher risk of contracting diseases. 

What are the 2 elements that Marie Curie discovered?

As we have previously highlighted, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered several elements. These were:

Polonium - Atomic number 84, this is a rare and highly radioactive metal with no stable isotopes. Today, it is mainly used for applications related to its radioactivity from space probe heaters to being a source of neutrons and alpha particles and as a poison.

Radium - Atomic number 88, is an alkaline earth metal. Pure Radium is a silvery-white metal that reacts with nitrogen (rather than oxygen) on exposure to air. 

marie curie radium
Radium watch-hands under ultraviolet light. Source: Mauswiesel/Wikimedia Commons

All known isotopes of Radium are highly radioactive.

According to Wikipedia: "Currently, other than its use in nuclear medicine, radium has no commercial applications; formerly, it was used as a radioactive source for radioluminescent devices and also in radioactive quackery for its supposed curative powers."

Films about Marie Curie

Marie Curie was one of the most prominent and important scientists of all time. She has inspired countless generations of boys and girls to follow in her footsteps and push mankind's knowledge of the universe forward. 

So it should come as no surprise that she has also made an impact on popular culture and the arts. Here are some examples of films about Marie Curie and her amazing life. 

1. Radioactive is due for release in 2020

Due for release in 2020, Radioactive is a biographical film about the life and times of Marie Curie. It is directed by Marjane Satrapi and will star Rosamund Pike as Marie.

The film is based on the novel of the same title by Lauren Redniss

It will center around the scientific and romantic passions of Marie and her husband Pierre Curie. 

2. Marie Curie: More Than Meets the Eye is a fun fictional film

Marie Curie: More Then Meets the Eye is a short 1997 TV fictional film loosely based around Marie's work during the first world war. The film is centered around a pair of young girls, the Boudreau sisters, who innocently attempt to try and catch spies in Paris. 

They soon set out to investigate a strange woman who seems to have access to high-security public buildings. As it turns out, the mysterious woman is none other than Madame Curie (played by Kate Trotter).

Her comings and goings in and out of Paris have brought suspicion on to her behavior, but Curie's work is completely innocent and a vital part of the war effort.

3. Les Palmes de M. Schutz is a French take on Marie's life

Les Palmes de M. Schutz is a 1997 French drama film about the life of Marie Curie. It was directed by Claude Pinoteau and stars Isabelle Huppert as Marie Curie. 

According to IMDB, it is "a humoristic view of the lives of Marie and Pierre Curie and their discoveries around radioactivity."

4. Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge is worth a watch

Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledgea 2016 internationally produced drama film directed by Marie Noëlle is another film about this great lady. 

"[The film] follows the famous physicist and chemist Marie Curie and her struggle for recognition in the male-dominated science community in early 20th century France," notes IMDB

According to Wikipedia, "it was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2016 Toronto International Film FestivalIt made its United States premiere at the New York Jewish Film Festival in 2017."

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