… and why.

The Page 3.14 readers poll asks this question, with a selected number of choices. The choices given in the poll are interesting, but I think one could add quite a few more. In part, this would depend on why one thinks a certain film is compelling.

Is a film compelling because it engages people in an interest in or love of science that goes beyond the film itself? Because it raises deep or at least interesting questions about science, or about other aspects of the world but from a scientific perspective?

I think Jurassic Park had the influence of making people interested in science, and it raised some interesting questions. GATTICA is not only a very well made film, but it fairly starkly addresses important ethical areas, even if doing so in what one hopes is a somewhat unrealistic setting.

Well, comment here with your choice and/or go over to 3.14 and vote! If we get enough interesting commentary, I’ll submit this post to the next Carnival of Cinema!


  1. #1 Andrew
    April 28, 2008

    I am not a scientist, but the movies that did make me most interested in science were the Frankenstein movies. If I was a scientist, I’d definitely be into re-animation research.

  2. #2 Virgil Samms
    April 28, 2008

    Dude, hate to burst your bubble, but “Jurassic Park” and “Gattaca” were science fiction movies.
    But if we’re allowed to go there, how about “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”? It’s hard to beat a classic line like “No matter where you go, there you are.”

  3. #3 Virgil Samms
    April 28, 2008

    “Klaatu barada nikto” is also classic, but doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

  4. #4 Cody
    April 28, 2008

    I’m still waiting for the sequel, CTAATGT.


  5. #5 Virgil Samms
    April 28, 2008

    I’m still waiting for the sequel, CTAATGT.

    Except you’ve got your polarity wrong.


  6. #6 Greg Laden
    April 28, 2008

    Dude, hate to burst your bubble, but “Jurassic Park” and “Gattaca” were science fiction movies.

    well, ah, yea, but ….

    Hey, it wasn’t ME who asked this question, it was Page 3.14! You should go over there and issue a complaint.

  7. #7 justawriter
    April 28, 2008

    A science (as opposed to science fiction) movie (well actually a miniseries) I really enjoyed was a Canadian production called Glory Enough For All, which was about the isolation of insulin. IMDB says it is available on DVD. Also, in the 30s and 40s, there was a rage in Hollywood for biopics, and I know ones on Louis Pastuer and Marie Curie were very well thought of at the time. Can’t attest to their quality personally.

  8. #8 uncle noel
    April 28, 2008

    Some science fiction actually teaches people real science. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a standout in this regard, suffering from almost none of the glaring physics errors that most sci fi movies display. (I think there are a few scenes where there seems to be gravity where there shouldn’t be, otherwise, it shows the dynamics of space travel magnificently.) I’d say that’s a “science movie” compared to, say, Star Wars.

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    April 28, 2008

    My favorite science movie is Real Genius. The science is generally appalling, but it’s one of the few films I’ve seen where people are having fun with it instead of being all staid and important. And I knew every one of those kids in my real life. I’m not saying which one I was.

    Then there’s the line, “I was pondering the immortal words of Socrates, who said, ‘I drank what?'”

  10. #10 Napoleon Champagne
    April 28, 2008

    Hey Stephanie: aren’t you supposed to be parsing through Gregs archives, looking for some dusty relic of a post that proves he has a
    “certified authentix wimins lovin’ feminiSS” card?

  11. #11 Caveat
    April 28, 2008

    I liked Fantastic Voyage, although it’s also a Sci-fi flick.

    When I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve seen many films about science and scientists. Are there movies about Newton, Einstein, Pasteur, Banting, Darwin, etc?

  12. #12 Caveat
    April 28, 2008

    Oops, I see from above that there are movies about scientists, I just haven’t seen them. Should read the comments first, eh?

    I also liked The Right Stuff, but I’m not sure if that’s science, per se.

    When the Wind Blows was a good one, post nuclear attack in England. I saw it years ago.

  13. #13 Tex
    April 28, 2008

    The best movie about science that was never made was ‘Hot Zone.’ After reading the book, I was totally psyched about the movie when it was announced they would film it, but for some reason it was never made (completed/distributed/shown in my hick town).

  14. #14 Grammar RWA
    April 28, 2008

    Are you going to ban Napoleon Champagne, or are you going to let him drive away your regular readers?

  15. #15 Der Bruno Stroszek
    April 29, 2008

    Tex – you’re right, the Hot Zone movie was never made. There’s a good chapter on its development in David Hughes’s book Tales from Development Hell; it would have starred Robert Redford and Jodie Foster and been directed by Ridley Scott. The main reason for the plug being pulled was a rival studio putting Outbreak into production. Richard Preston did at least give the following deathlessly wonderful quote about that other movie:

    “I’m just sitting here laughing… It just wasn’t scary. You have scabs that look like Gummi Bears. The blood was put on with an eyedropper. In a real Ebola outbreak, the men bleed out of their nipples. I would like to have seen Dustin Hoffman bleed out of his nipples.”