Since a very long time, the entertainment industry has been playing a major role in getting people close to Science, mainly through Sci-fi flicks and TV shows. However, apart from the Sci-fi subjects, there have been a lot of movies based on the true events of Scientists, Engineers or other reputed personalities that have left a big impact on the audience. Such creations not only impart knowledge but also inspire us as to how we can overcome the challenges and keep on working towards our goals with full conviction.
Here, we have compiled a list of such movies that will give you an insightful picture of Science and Technology while conveying valuable life lessons. Let’s have a quick glance at the compilation of movies that every tech enthusiast must watch.
1. The World’s Fastest Indian
The World’s Fastest Indian Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.9/10
Release Date: December 2005
Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Aaron James Murphy, Diane Ladd, Annie Whittle, Christopher Lawford
The World’s Fastest Indian is a biographical sports drama that is based on the life of a bike racer named Burt Munro. He set various land speed records in bike racing with the help of his highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle. The story revolves around an old man living in New Zealand who has the fastest motorcycle and is also featured in Popular Mechanics magazine. His long-time dream is to travel to the USA and take part in the Bonneville Speedway, but to fulfill the same he has to go through a lot of obstacles.
He faces bureaucracy, skepticism, and other difficulties on his way. Finally, he reaches Bonneville Salt Flats only to find out that the officials block him for not registering his motorcycle in advance and it lacks the mandated safety equipment. The movie showcases how he fights all his problems and succeeds to set a new land speed record of reaching 201.851 mph. It illustrates a perfect example that you don’t necessarily have to be young or rich to follow your dreams.
Munro owned an Indian Scout 1920 model with an original speed of 55 mph but he modified it for setting his speed records. He didn’t have enough money and had to work overnight. Moreover, he often made the parts and tools by himself without any professional aid. He succeeded to set the following records:
· An 883 cc class record of 288 kmph (1962)
· A 1000 cc class record of 270.476 kmph (1966)
· An under 1000 cc class record of 295.453 kmph (1967)
· A one-way run of 305.89 kmph, the fastest ever officially recorded speed on an Indian.
2. October Sky
The October Sky Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
Release Date: February 1999
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Chris Owen, Chad Lindberg
October Sky is an American biographical film that portrays the story of a coal miner’s son who is inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 and decides to pursue rocketry against his father’s wishes to eventually become a NASA engineer. It’s a true story of Homer Hickman Junior and depicts the challenging life that he led in order to achieve his goals. The movie derived most of its pieces from Homer’s book named “Rocket Boys”.
After the launch of Sputnik 1 by Soviet Russia, Homer begins studying about rockets. Later, with the help of his friends and support from his teacher, they all build and launch small rockets. Among the constant struggles posed by the failure of his initial experiments and his father’s disagreement towards his dreams, he wins prizes at the national science fair and is offered with various scholarships from colleges.
Homer Hickman Jr. was born in Coalwood and graduated from Big Creek High School. He, along with his group of friends used to make rockets and called themselves “The Big Creek Missile Agency” (BCMA). They also took part in the 1960 National Science Fair and won a gold as well as a silver medal in the area of propulsion. After high school, he graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. There he made a cannon that used to be fired at games and during the cadet corps functions held in the school.
Hickman’s contributions were;
· Served in the US army as a First Lieutenant
· Discharged when he reached to the rank of Captain.
· Worked as an engineer at the US Army Aviation and Missile Command and the 7th Army Training Command in Germany.
· Employed by NASA as an aerospace engineer.
· Wrote books like Torpedo Junction, Rocket Boys, Back to the moon, etc.
3. Einstein and Eddington
Einstein and Eddington Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
Release Date: November 2008
Director: Philip Martin
Cast: Andy Serkis, David Tennant, Lucy Cohu, Jim Broadbent, Rebecca Hall
This movie is a British docudrama that covers the story of Einstein, his general theory of relativity and his relationship with Eddington. Both the leads lead different lives but face a common political tension and dilemma. Einstein’s theory is not supported as it opposes the universe created by Isaac Newton. In addition to personal issues, wars, and political conspiracies, the bond between the two remains unaffected. Eddington tries hard to prove Einstein’s theory of relativity and has to face a lot of consequences. On the other hands, Einstein also goes through a hard time while preventing his work from being used for wars and mass killing.
Eddington played a significant role in popularizing the theory of relativity. Despite being from England, he showed a keen interest in Einstein’s theory (who was a German physicist). He also observed the solar eclipse to analyze the relativity theory and later published his observations, thereby confirming it to be a conclusive proof over the Newtonian model.
4. Apollo 13
Apollo 13 Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Release Date: June 1995
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan
Apollo 13 is a docudrama space adventure that dramatizes the aborted lunar mission of 1970. It’s an adaptation of the book “Lost Mon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13”. In the movie, three astronauts- Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise who are on America’s third moon landing mission. However, on their way to space, an onboard explosion deprives their spacecraft of oxygen and electric power. This makes NASA abort the mission and they struggle to get them back to earth safely. In order to bring technical relevance to the movie, the director approached NASA for assistance in astronaut and flight controller training for the cast and they even shot some scenes in a reduced gravity aircraft, for depicting weightlessness experienced by the astronauts in space.
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third lunar landing mission. The mission’s lunar landing had to be aborted soon after the launch when an oxygen tank exploded after two days. Despite going through numerous difficulties like loss of cabin heat, limited power, shortage of potable water and the repairs demanded by the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew succeeded to return safely to earth. The flight passed the far side of the moon at an altitude of 254 km above the lunar surface which is 400,171 km away from Earth. This record made it the farthest humans have traveled from Earth.
21 Movie Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
Release Date: March 2008
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Dana Brunetti, Michael DeLuca
21 is a drama film that covers the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team which was earlier described through a book named “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich. The central character of the movie is Ben Campbell who is a Math Major at MIT and needs the scholarship to get into Harvard Medical School.
At MIT, when professor Micky Rosa challenges Ben with a complex problem in non-linear equation classes, he solves it without much difficulty. Rosa gets impressed with Ben and asks him to join the Blackjack team to which Ben agrees but only until he is capable of paying for the medical school. The story takes an interesting turn as Ben’s life changes while he gets distracted by the casino games, which affects his projects.
MIT Blackjack Team is a group of students from MIT, Harvard Business School, Harvard University and other leading colleges. The students use card counting techniques and more sophisticated strategies so as to beat the casinos at blackjack game. Ben Mezrich’s best-selling book named “Bringing Down the House” featured stories of some players from the MIT Blackjack Team. Although the book was popularized as non-fiction but later Mezrich admitted that certain stories were framed on the basis of what he heard from the players.
6. The Social Network
The Social Network Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.7/10
Release Date: October 2010
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella
This movie is based on the life of Mark Zuckerberg, the man behind Facebook. The story revolves around a 19-year old Harvard student named Mark who builds a website called Facemash by hacking into the college database and putting random photos of the students where visitors would rate those pictures. The website gets such a huge traffic that it crashes Harvard’s computer network. Consequently, Mark is given 6-month probation.
However, two Harvard upperclassmen-Cameron and Tyler along with their business partner Divya Narendra are impressed with the idea and offer him to make a website for the Harvard students. Later, when Mark comes up with his plans of designing TheFacebook, the trio feels that he has stolen their idea and raise a complaint. Amidst all the enmity, lawsuits, and friendship, Mark struggles and fights all odds to become the world’s youngest billionaire.
Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room in 2004 after being inspired by a prep school’s “The Photo Address Book”. It was basically a photo directory where students could list down their class years, friends, and telephone numbers. The Facebook website was initially used by Harvard students but later it spread to other college campuses and gradually by 2012 it had gained one billion users.
Mark was a bright student from the very early stages of his academic journey. He was tutored by David Newman while he was in middle school. He built a software program called “ZuckNet” to connect all the computers between his house and his father’s dental office. Later in college, he wrote a program called “CourseMatch” where students could take class selection decisions and form study groups.
7. The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
Release Date: November 2014
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Alexandre Desplat.
The Imitation Game is loosely based on the real life of British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who decrypted the German intelligence codes for the British government during World War 2. The film features Benedict who plays the role of Alan Turing as the main character. When Britain declares war on Germany, he is hired to decrypt the Enigma codes that Germans use in their communications.
Turing, along with his team, builds a machine and names it “Christopher” but they have just one month to decrypt the German message so as to win the war. An interesting turn of events depicts how the team inches towards success. However, despite his great contributions, Turing’s homosexuality leads him towards an unfortunate ending.
Alan Turing was a genius and one of the very few people who could decrypt Enigma codes. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers. His major contributions include cracking the intercepted coded messages that allowed the Allies to defeat Nazis in many crucial engagements. It is believed that his work helped in shortening the war in Europe by more than 2 years, thereby saving more than 14 million lives.
8. The Pirate Bay: Away from Keyboard
The Pirate Bay: Away from Keyboard Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Release Date: February 2013
Director: Simon Klose
Cast: Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde
This movie is a documentary featuring three computer addicts who founded the filesharing network named “The Pirate Bay”. It’s a BitTorrent download site that has played a pivotal role in redefining the world of media distribution. The website is immensely popular among the netizens as it gave them a platform to search, download and share magnet links as well as torrent files.
However, the founders- Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde are found guilty of copyright infringement, prosecuted by Swedish State Prosecutors alongside some Hollywood’s MPA, music industry’s IFPI, and Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau. Consequently, the founders of Pirate Bay are sentenced to imprisonment and have to pay damages worth USD 6.6 Million.
On one side, Hollywood claimed that the industry is suffering from huge losses because of the free file sharing network while on the other hand, the supporters of The Pirate Bay argued that Hollywood earns much more than what they might have lost. Moreover, it was argued that the easy availability of movies on the site indirectly helped in popularizing them rather than leading to a monetary loss.
9. The Theory of Everything
The Theory of Everything Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.7/10
Release Date: January 2015
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis
Director: James Marsh
Theory of Everything is an adaptation of “Travelling to Infinity: My life with Stephen” by Jane Wilde Hawking. She is the ex-wife of the famous physicist Prof Stephen Hawking. It’s a story about the lives of Stephen and Jane amidst all the tough and happy times that they spend together. It also highlights how Prof Hawking succeeds in the field of Physics even when he is diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.
Stephen Hawking is a renowned scientist who has won numerous awards and accolades for his contributions in the field of Science. His famous works include gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the prediction that black holes emit radiation. He has also won the lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Science. Owing to the disease that he is suffering from, his body is paralysed over decades and now he uses a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-recognition device.
10. The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff Movie Official Trailer
IMDb Rating: 7.9/10
Director: Philip Kaufman
Release Date: February 1984
Cast: Scott Glen, Ed Harris, Lance Henriksen, Scott Paulin, Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, Fred Ward.
This historical drama narrates the story of USA’s first manned spaceflight, Project Mercury and the astronauts that are selected for the mission. When Russia launches Sputnik satellite, America wishes to defeat Russians in the space race for which they prepare the mission, Mercury. Soon Russia sends Yuri Gagarin in space through the launch of Vostok 1 in 1961, after which the USA gears up for the Mercury Program.
Project Mercury was the first manned spaceflight mission of US with the goal to put a man into Earth orbit, before the Soviet Union. NASA conducted twenty unmanned developmental flights and 6 successful manned flights. Shortly after the Soviet Union sent Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit, US launched its first astronaut, Alan Shepard on a suborbital flight. This was followed by Soviet Gherman Titov traveling with a day-long orbital flight in August whereas later U.S. reached its orbital goal when John Glenn made three orbits around the Earth. By 1963, Both USA and Soviet Union had sent 6 people in space, but the latter took the lead in terms of the total time spent in space.
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