Marie Curie, brilliant scientist as she was, had a lifelong battle to achieve recognition from the male establishment in Paris.
Her ferocious determination and refusal to conform is vividly captured by Rosamund Pike in new film Radioactive.
Directed by Iranian-born artist and writer Marjane Satrapi, Radioactive gives a compelling picture of Curie’s struggles and achievements.
Born Maria Sklowdaska in Warsaw in 1867, she went to Paris in 1891 at the age of 24.
Pike depicts her as brusque, blunt and uncompromising as she demands more laboratory space from an indifferent male university panel.
It was not until she met her future husband, fellow scientist Pierre Curie (Sam Riley), that she found someone who had faith in her work.
He became her partner in life and laboratory, joining her in pioneering research in radioactivity which won them a joint Nobel Prize in 1903.
Marie was devastated when Pierre was killed in 1906 – he was run down by a horse-drawn cart in heavy rain.
But she remained passionate about her work and in 1911 won a second Nobel Prize, this time for chemistry.
She became heavily involved in the use of X-rays in medicine and the film shows some memorable pictures of Marie and daughter Irene hauling X-ray machines to mobile field hospitals during World War I.
Marie’s growing international fame did not shield her from scandal.
Her affair with a married doctoral student Paul Langevin (Aneurin Barnard), a friend to her and her late husband, had Paris mobs screaming abuse in the streets.
A jarring note in the film was director Satrapi’s interposing scenes showing future atomic disasters at Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
Was she suggesting that we would all be better off if the Curies had not discovered radium and polonium?
But overall Radioactive gives an engrossing picture of one of the world’s most extraordinary individuals.
Radioactive is showing at the Windsor Cinema and Luna On Essex.
Watch the trailer…