Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Madame Curie (1943)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Madame Curie (1943)

In director Mervyn LeRoy's fact-based docu-drama/biopic about ground-breaking research into radioactivity and the discovery of radium in the late 19th century:

  • the scene of determined lab assistant-wife Marie Sklodowska/Curie (Greer Garson) and physicist-scientist-husband Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon) seeing the results of "four long years" of their laborious work (isolating radium) in a shed - the use of a tedious process called "final crystallization" in order to isolate "precious elusive radium" in a lab dish within a covered evaporating bowl on one of their lab tables - however, Marie was ultimately crushed that the crystallization process produced only a stain rather than a chunk of radium
  • the scene of Marie's visit to a doctor for an examination, where she was cautioned about the danger to her hands after three and a half years of work - burned by the pure radium and potentially developing into cancer: ("We have never seen burns quite like this before. They are very strange. I can't ever remember seeing anything quite like them. They obviously don't come from any normal substance"); Marie was cautioned: ("I don't wish to alarm you, Madame Curie, but it is very possible that these burns might become serious, might in fact develop malignantly if you continue to expose them excessively to your unknown element. It is not impossible that they may be developed into a cancerous nature. It is my advice, Madame, that you abandon your experiments")
  • Marie's frantic reaction to the stain: ("There's nothing there, not a trace of anything, not a grain. Only a stain. What's happened, Pierre? Where is our radium? What have we done? Where is it? What's happened? Where is it, Pierre?...What did we do that was wrong? What could we have done?...I can't stand it, Pierre. Where is our radium? We worked for years and years and years. It must be there. It must be there. Four long years in this shed")
  • and later, Marie's flash of insight while lying on her pillow and speaking to her husband: ("Pierre, that stain on the saucer...We didn't even test it, did we?...What we are expecting to find was a definite amount of radium, wasn't it? Something we could see and feel. Not as much as a pinch of salt, you said....Pierre, what if it's, what if it's merely a question of amount? What does so little radium in proportion to the amount of material that we used that as of now - we couldn't see it. What if that stain, even with the merest, merest breath...(Marie sat up in bed) Pierre, could it, could it be that that stain is radium?")
  • the next scene when they dressed and rushed to their lab to test Marie's theory; she was the first to see the glowing radium through the window from a distance: ("Pierre! It's there. Our radium! It's there! It's there!"); they ran inside, looked down at the glowing radium, and hugged each other triumphantly over their profound discovery
  • the concluding scene of a frail and widowed Madame Curie making an appearance and speech before the Faculty of Science at the University of Paris, to commemorate the 25th year anniversary of the discovery of radium: ("Even now, after twenty-five years of intensive research, we feel there is a great deal still to be done. We have made many discoveries. Pierre Curie, in the suggestions we have found in his notes and in thoughts he expressed to me, has helped to guide us to him. But no one of us can do much if each of us perhaps can catch some gleam of knowledge which modestly insufficient of itself may add to man's dream of truth. It is by these small candles in our darkness that we see before us, little by little, the dim outlines of that great plan that shapes the universe. And I am among those who think that for this reason, science has great beauty and with its great spiritual strength will in time cleanse this world of its evils, its ignorance, its poverty, diseases, wars and heartaches. Look for the clear light of truth. Look for unknown new roads even when man's sight is keener far than now. Divine wonder will never fail him. Every age has its own dreams. Leave then the dreams of yesterday. You - take the torch of knowledge and build the palace of the future")

Burns on Marie's Hands

The Tedious Work to Isolate Radium in Lab

Madame Curie's Flash of Insight About the Stain Being Radium: "We couldn't see it"

Glowing Radium in Lab: "It's There. Our Radium"

Madame Curie's Speech at Univ. of Paris 25 years later: "Look for the clear light of truth"


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