Changing image of a scientist and science

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


There is an emerging trend in films that represent the process of scientific inquiry through anchoring of the narrative around the scientist rather than delving deep into scientific detail. While film can help explain scientific results, it is even better suited to help us understand scientific inquiry and a way of thinking. I will present several films that exemplify this trend of adding personal stories to science films starting with Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé, through Cosmos and Particle Fever. We will even touch on fictional films like The Theory of Everything. While we may distinguish between fiction and nonfiction in the area of science, some fiction films play a similar role in popularizing science to that originally reserved for non-fiction, especially when they present the lives and potential motivations of scientists. Presenting personal views of scientists may directly contrast with the guidelines established during the Enlightenment, which asserted that scientific discourse should be a-contextual, impersonal, factual and precise (Zerbe 33). In this study, I argue that, this new trend of presenting science as personal journey is more aligned with the postmodernist understanding of direct involvement of the author in the subject. The advantage of presenting a scientist in a science film is twofold. Using personal stories can help us better understand scientific culture, and it can also provide audience with potential role models. As we will see from the film My Way these role models can inspire future scientists. This may be especially true for underrepresented population in science, whether the underrepresentation is due to their gender or their ethnic background.


My way is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.