Saturday, February 16, 2013

Madam Curie, The Movie, The Woman

I learned about this week's Strong is Sexy Woman of the Past from a movie I saw on TCM. It really resonated with me. Made me laugh, made me cry, and taught me something at the same time.

Radium was discovered by a woman.

It's a chemical that in the movie, comes from a rock. It has a glow. It's used in  gases, it treats cancer, it can be found in glowing paints.

A woman (Marie) made this possible, at serious cost to herself. The movie from 1943 show us a young woman (Greer Garson) attending school far away from her father and country of Poland, a lone women among many men, do experiments and working toward her degree. Professor Curie at first declares a woman has no place in the lab, but she soon wins him over with her witty intellect.

He convinces her to marry him. Together, they discover a "magic rock" that accidentally "took a photo." Or I guess it was an X-ray.

Greer Garson as Madam Curie
The school is not willing to give them much resources to find this radium this crazy woman and her enamored husband speak of. They work endlessly in a rundown building leaking water. They shovel, they cook, they sweat, they separate chemicals pain-stakenly for years.

Their passion just literally comes off the screen. Their love for each other, their love for their work, their drive to find it. When they do, tragedy strikes. Very sad. This is the point I cried. And Madam Curie had to carry on.

The real Curie
Superb acting and a terrific story about a very determined woman who faced down hardships and said, "You can't stop me!"

Madam Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize. From what I can tell, the move did take a few variations from the real-life story. Instead of going home to Poland and coming back to marry him after things didn't work out professionally for her there, the movie Curie agrees to marry Pierre a lot sooner. However, the movie portrayed the tragic death of Pierre to a T.
The real Madam Curie died from her exposure to radium. This was not in the movie. Rather I did more research online, having been inspired by her story.


-She graduated high school at 15 with honors.
-She was a governess for three years and taught the "lower class" children to read as well as her charges. This was a crime then.
-She earned much of her own money for college.

The next time this is on TCM, be sure to record it.

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