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science in the movies

Dear Graduate students and Postdocs,

 

Join us to enjoy a movie and to debate science and depictions of science!

 

As you know, science is very often present in movies, but… is it an accurate depiction? Does it need to be accurate? How is it affecting the public perception of what we do?

This and much more we will be discussing after watching a selection of movies that somehow have science as another character!

We will meet the 3rd Friday of each month (unless indicated otherwise) in Lily 1-117 @ 4:30pm, popcorn and soft drinks will be available courtesy of the Department of Biological Sciences!

We only ask you to sign in ahead of time so we can estimate attendance.

I hope you can join us! Sign up here.

Please see our planned program below,

Sincerely,

Claudio Aguilar

(claudio@purdue.edu)

Disclaimer: we do not abide/support the opinions or content of the movies. Participation is voluntary and under each person's responsibility.

 

Program

 

Oct 19

Gattaca is a 1997 American science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman (PG 13).

In the not-too-distant future, a less-than-perfect man wants to travel to the stars. Society has categorized Vincent Freeman as less than suitable given his genetic make-up and he has become one of the underclass of humans that are only useful for menial jobs. To move ahead, he assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow, a perfect genetic specimen who is a paraplegic as a result of a car accident. With professional advice, Vincent learns to deceive DNA and urine sample testing. Just when he is finally scheduled for a space mission, his program director is killed and the police begin an investigation, jeopardizing his secret.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/

Nov 16

Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. (PG)

It is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race

People in Hidden Figures

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as "human computers", we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history's greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Gobels Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/

Dec 14

Contagion is a 2011 American medical thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Ehle. (PG 13)

Soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff dies from what is a flu or some other type of infection. Her young son dies later the same day. Her husband Mitch however seems immune. Thus begins the spread of a deadly infection. For doctors and administrators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, several days pass before anyone realizes the extent or gravity of this new infection. They must first identify the type of virus in question and then find a means of combating it, a process that will likely take several months. As the contagion spreads to millions of people worldwide, societal order begins to break down as people panic.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/

Jan 18

Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks's 1973 memoir of the same title. Awakenings stars Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, Ruth Nelson, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, and Max von Sydow. (PG 13)

Dr. Malcolm Sayer is hired as a clinical physician at a psychiatric hospital in the Bronx, despite only having a research background. The job is not ideal on his side as he has difficulties relating to people, which is the reason he has focused on research projects not involving human subjects, while the hospital hires him somewhat out of desperation in not finding anyone else with the qualifications who wants the job. Most of his patients are in a semi-catatonic state and are housed in what some of the orderlies coin the "garden" ward, where all they can do for the patients is water and feed them. He notices that some of the patients, despite their generally catatonic state, respond in unusual ways to certain stimuli. In doing some research, he also finds that some common bonds between these patients are that they suffered from encephalitis in the 1920s or 1930s, and that their physical states are like they have Parkinson's disease frozen in time.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099077/

Feb 15

Contact is a 1997 American science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan's 1985 novel of the same name. (PG)

Astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway has long been interested in contact to faraway lands, a love fostered in her childhood by her father, Ted Arroway, who passed away when she was nine years old leaving her then orphaned. Her current work in monitoring for extraterrestrial life is based on that love and is in part a homage to her father. Ever since funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) was pulled on her work, which is referred to some, including her NSF superior David Drumlin, as more science fiction than science, Ellie, with a few of her rogue scientist colleagues, have looked for funding from where ever they could get it to continue their work. When Ellie and her colleagues hear chatter originating from the vicinity of the star Vega, Ellie feels vindicated. But that vindication is short lived when others, including politicians, the military, religious leaders and other scientists such as Drumlin, try to take over her work.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118884

Mar 22 

 And the Band Played On is a 1993 American television film docudrama directed by Roger Spottiswoode, based on the best-selling 1987 non-fiction book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts. (PG 13)

This is the story of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and focuses on three key elements. Dr. Don Francis, an immunologist with experience in eradicating smallpox and containing the Ebola virus, joins the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to try and understand just what this disease is. They also have deal with bureaucracy and a government that doesn't seem to care. The gay community in San Francisco is divided on the nature of the disease but also what should be done about it. Finally, the film deals with the rivalry between Dr. Robert Gallo, the American virologist who previously discovered the first retrovirus and his French counterpart at the Pasteur Institute, Dr. Luc Montagnier, that led to disputed claims about who was first to identify the AIDS virus.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106273/

Apr 12

Mimic is a 1997 American science fiction horror film co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro based on Donald A. Wollheim's short story of the same name, and starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Charles S. Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini and F. Murray Abraham. The film features Norman Reedus in his film debut. (R)

A disease carried by common cockroaches is killing Manhattan children. In an effort to stop the epidemic an entomologist, Susan Tyler, creates a mutant breed of insect that secretes a fluid to kill the roaches. This mutant breed was engineered to die after one generation, but three years later Susan finds out that the species has survived and evolved into a large, gruesome monster that can mimic human form. 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119675/

May 17

Lorenzo's Oil is a 1992 American drama film directed by George Miller. It is based on the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone, two parents in a relentless search for a cure for their son Lorenzo's Adreno-leuko-dystrophy (ALD). The film was nominated for two Academy Awards. (PG 13)

Until about the age of 7, Lorenzo Odone was a normal child. After then, strange things began to happen to him: he would have blackouts, memory lapses, and other strange mental phemonenons. He is eventually diagnosed as suffering from ALD: an extremely rare incurable degenerative brain disorder. Frustrated at the failings of doctors and medicine in this area, the Odones begin to educate themselves in the hope of discovering something which can halt the progress of the disease. 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104756/

Sep 20

The Boys from Brazil is a 1978 British-American science fiction thriller film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It stars Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier. (R)

The film is based on the 1976 novel of the same title by Ira Levin, and was nominated for three Academy Awards. The Boys from Brazil was one of the first films to depict cloning, and to discuss the ethical implications of genetic engineering, cloning, and eugenics.

Barry Kohler, a young Nazi hunter, tracks down a group of former SS officers meeting in Paraguay in the late 1970s. The Nazis, led by Dr Mengele, are planning something. Old Nazi hunter, Ezra Lieberman, is at first uninterested in Kohler's findings. But when he is told something of their plan, he is eager to find out more. Lieberman visits several homes in Europe and the U.S. in order to uncover the Nazi plot.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077269/

Oct 18

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a 1996 American science fiction horror film, the third major film adaptation of the 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. The film was directed by John Frankenheimer and stars Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis and Fairuza Balk. (PG13)

Set in the year 2010, Dr. Moreau has successfully combined human and animal DNA to make a crossbreed animal. Well, as usual, something goes wrong and David Thewlis must try to stop it before it is too late. Originally rated R, but cut by Frankenheimer to allow "a wider audience".

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116654

Nov 15

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a 2017 drama television film directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. (NR)

It is based on the book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot and documents the story of Henrietta Lacks, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s, and whose cancer cells (later known as HeLa) are used to create the first immortal human cell line in the early 1950s.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5686132/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Dec 13

The Imitation Game is a 2014 American historical drama film directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore, based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. (PG13)

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/


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