23 June 2014

Marilyn demonstrates the Theory of Relativity

Nic Roeg's 1985 film Insignificance is an engaging if highly implausible concoction that asks, 'What if Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe McCarthy and Joe DiMaggio all met up one night in 1954 in a New York hotel room, and what might they talk about?' For screenwriter Terry Johnson, who had just co-written the amusing 20-minute short Jazzin' For Blue Jean for David Bowie, part of the answer to that question can be seen in the film's most famous scene, in which The Actress (Monroe, played by Theresa Russell, who was at the time married to Roeg) demonstrates the Theory of Relativity to The Professor (Einstein, played by Michael Emil). It's a delightfully impish conceit, but surprisingly effective; I first saw the film in the late 1980s on TV and even today I still remember Russell's complex and breathy explanation to the initially baffled and then delighted Emil. The occasional intercut scenes might be a bit confusing if you haven't seen the whole film, but address events in the earlier lives of the characters, and the nuclear attacks on Japan in 1945.  

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