Angels & Insects (easily mis-typed as Incest) -- if you're asking about films

Asking a Scienceblogger...

What movie do you think does something admirable (though not necessarily accurate) regarding science? Bonus points for answering whether the chosen movie is any good generally....

The first legitimate answer that occurred to me was the 1995 Angels & Insects

On Darwinism, gender and science, class and science, natural selection, based on A.S. Byatt novellas.

This is a beautiful film, an excellent story, and a solid science-based one at that. I really can't overstate how beautiful it is. (It seems that IMDB and Rotten Tomato reviewers aren't as enamored, but they shall be ignored.) Colorful, vivid, with strong imagery, and an appealing art-science strain all throughout. I'm not a biologist, so I can't vouch for the fidelity to theory as understood or interpreted in the Victorian Age, although for whatever reason, the blog has been on a mini-Darwin run of late (like here and here), perhaps echoing the strong bio- and Darwin-strain on Scienceblogs in general, and so it seems somehow in keeping with that that I'd think of this movie. Maybe I was just trying to keep up. In any case.

[And the obvious caveat: it would not be possible to answer the question as stated. I love film, I use movies in all of my classes, and I try to organize a film series every year. (I "try" but have actually ever done it for real once. Something always gets in the way every other time.)]

Most of the movies people think of seem to be tech-heavy ones, science fiction ones, and/or future-focused ones. When I do social studies of technology, I have a section of The History of the Future, and we look at how visions of the future have changed over time, and we use films to make that pretty clear. Plus other clips, as from, you got it, old World's Fairs, and old TV shows, and even new ones. The first episode of Futurama always does the trick. But I wouldn't consider those great science films exactly, or ideal representations of science, necessarily. But fun. They're that.

Check out some from the site, which is an amazing repository of old film clips. Here's one favorite, Leave it to Roll-Oh (1940). And here's another, Report from Outer Space (1954). And a third, for engineers, a promo piece from the 50's (1956) (they were all promo pieces), on how great engineers are and how they are leading the American way, all the while showing how the American system will blow away the Soviet system.

This could go on and on. I won't let it. I'm already into a tangent.

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Excellent call on Angels and Insects! It is an oddly beautiful film chock full of delightful, decadent quirkiness infused with science. It has been a while since I saw the film, but I recall that the aristocratic Alabaster ladies' dresses had entomological motifs. Kristin Scott Thomas' character's transformation from repressed, tightly coiffed Victorian lady-scientist to loose-haired smouldering wanton was kind of predictable.

That's a good point about the Thomas character -- in fact, it's funny what you remember, because mostly, I carry the images of vibrant color -- colorful dresses, ostentatious dancing halls, drawings and insects and posteuring -- and forget about the plot until second or third reflection.

I was sticking to ONE movie so I picked one that makes science cool for kids, but 'Angels And Insects' was my first choice for a movie for adults that portrays science really well and also points to some important themes of women in science, etc.