How science is portrayed unscientifically through cinema?

There are a lot of subjects which are not shown accurately in the media- it is widely known that programs with a historical backdrop often show various historical inaccuracies. How’s that happening and in that case and if documentaries still keep their role in science popularisation, the answer is right below:

Science & Cinema

The pyramids of Egypt are typically cinematographic elements, due to their perfect geometrical shapes and imposing sizes. All the elements are there for the cinema to seize these monuments scattered all over Egypt, a further argument in favor of their uses in the film industry. To answer to the endless questions such as who built the pyramids, when were they built, how were they built… current movies rely on differents myths and spread a lot of misunderstandings to the audience. For example, clearly, constructing the pyramids required massive manpower. For a long time they were believed, thanks to many science fiction movies, to have been built by slaves. But research from the past few decades suggests otherwise. In the village surrounding the pyramids, archaeologists discovered remains from enough sheeps, cows, and goats for thousands of people to eat meat every day—meaning, says Harvard Magazine, “that the pyramid workers were fed by royalty… [and] they were not slaves at all, at least not in the modern sense.”
One of the most amazing movies about space: Gravity where Two American astronauts attempt to return to Earth after their shuttle is destroyed, is known also for some impossible details from the scientific point of view. “The one thing that stood out to me as being highly unlikely is Sandra Bullock’s character is able to change orbits drastically from the shuttle’s orbit to that Chinese space station,” says Elphic - NASA planetary scientist. “It takes a lot of propulsion to change your orbit plane and your orbit altitude and that’s just not something you’re going to have in a [spacesuit] like what she was wearing. That part of it is not only far-fetched, but I would venture to say is impossible.”


Is science popularisation through the cinema screen still a good choice?

Yes. On the one hand, science is the most important component of the productive forces that move our society. Additionally, science is the most important component of contemporary culture: If one is ignorant of science, one is not cultivated. 

The history of science popularisation, on the other hand, shows that, very often, discourses have not even tried to explain the true meaning of scientific discoveries, but the practical consequences of that information to everyday life. But scientific knowledge is not necessarily practical or useful and, to many scientists, it is more important to propose new questions than to offer practical solutions.

To sum up

Not just to educate people, people watch science films also to get inspired. And as wide-public channels, cinema and television seem to help science knowledge reaching more and more people in a positive way. We can see a lot of movies on science topic being famous around the world such as comedian series The Big Bang Theories, Space series Hidden Figures (2016) or First man (2018), The Revelation of Pyramids - a documentary...  So many brilliant scientists, meanwhile, changed their research career into producing science series, telling very human stories with a science look… Cinema stands on its role of science popularisation, no matter what. 

We had an interview with Dr. Mark Levinson - a theoretical particle physicist becoming a celebrated film director, just’s here to get inspired by his story. 

In case you need a science popularisation source, here’s our free platform which brings together 90 million of scientific articles around the world. Just sign up, read and download for free: