Me And Isaac Newton

Me And Isaac Newton


Reviewed by: Trinity

Most people will probably know Michael Apted as the director of The World Is Not Enough. Those with longer memories will remember that he started out in investigative journalism, and moved on to make the ground-breaking documentary series 7-Up. In 1997, Apted's portrait of the lives of several artists, Inspirations, premiered. This in turn inspired Me And Isaac Newton.

In this film, Apted takes a look at seven prominent scientists: Gertrude Elion, Ashok Gadgil Michio Kaku, Maja Mataric, Steven Pinker, Karol Sikora an Patricia Chapple Wright. Between them they cover the fields of pharmacology, environmental physics, theoretical physics, robotics, cognitive science, medicine and primatology. Apted tries to find out what inspires these people and motivates them to push the frontiers of science.

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Each person interviewed has their own personal stories to tell, and each possesses a common enthusiasm not only for their subject, but to communicate this enthusiasm to others. Kaku relates the wonderful tale of when he asked his mother if it would be okay to build an atom smasher in his garage - as long as he took out the garbage. Now he answers hundreds of emails from similarly inquisitive children.

Despite the strong personalities chosen, this documentary doesn't seem to possess the same spark which drives its subjects. I would have liked to have recommended this film as an illuminating insight into the lives of geniuses but compared to other contemporary documentaries it seems staid and dull. At one point in the film, Dr. Pinker says that "ideas don't appear in flashes of inspiration". Unfortunately, Me and Isaac Newton doesn't appear to have any flashes of inspiration either.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A documentary exploring the inspiration which drives a remarkable group of seven scientists.
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Director: Michael Apted

Starring: Gertrude Elion, Ashok Gadgil, Michio Kaku, Maja Mataric, Steven Pinker, Karol Sikora, Patricia Chapple Wright

Year: 1999

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: USA


EIFF 2000

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