Einstein and the Bomb centres around Albert Einstein (obvs), portrayed by Aidan McArdle (Ridley), where he’s a professor at the University of Princeton, New Jersey in 1955, reflecting on Oppenheimer’s bomb tests, as shown in Christopher Nolan’s recent movie, with this Netflix drama serving very much as complementary to it.
The science genius regrets his part in what led to the bomb’s existence, regarding his theory of relativity and the link between mass and energy, as well as how time can be experienced differently on other planets, a la another Nolan film, Interstellar.
However, in 1933, given Hitler’s rise in Germany, Einstein to Norfolk, on the invitation of anti-fascist campaigner and Commander Locker-Lampson (Andrew Havill – The Crown Season 5), who also provides gun-toting bodyguards in the form of Margery Howard (Rachel Barry) and Barbara Goodhall (Helena Westerman).
Ultimately, he’s invited to speak against Hitler but doesn’t want to affect German Jews back home, so will take some persuading, but in a drama which rather canters back and forth throughout his life, we learn of his experiments as a youngster, plus later spending 12 weeks in Japan giving lectures, and when a friend and compatriot is killed by nationalists, he fears he’ll be next, given that he’s criticised by those days with small minds who hate him.
Einstein only wanted a quiet life, yet events and his genius led to him being photographed over 10,000 times, but throughout the the rise of Nazism, he observes, “I cannot understand the passive response of the whole civilised world to this modem barbarism”, which makes it feel rather like the Tories.
As we learned with Oppenheimer, had Einstein known the Germans wouldn’t have been able to make an atomic bomb, he wouldn’t have got involved, but the benefit of hindsight runs deep for all of us at times.
In a drama where it’s comfirmed that “All words are his own, spoken or written during his lifetime”, Einstein and the Bomb is a very good way of spending 76 minutes, but as I mentioned earlier, it perhaps rather canters through his time, as well as going back and forth throughout his life, so I think at least a two-parter would’ve been good to flesh the story out a bit.
Einstein and the Bomb is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from tomorrow.
Running time: 76 minutes
Release date: February 16th 2024
Director: Anthony Philipson
Producer: Anne Mensah
Writer: Philip Ralph
Music: Tim Hodge
Albert Einstein: Aidan McArdle
Commander Locker-Lampson: Andrew Havill
Margery Howard: Rachel Barry
Barbara Goodhall: Helena Westerman
Katsu Hara: Leo Ashizawa
Young Einstein: Jay Lewis Mitchell
Himself: Albert Einstein (archive footage)
Jacob Epstein: Simon Markey
Walter Adams: James Musgrove
Paul Weyland: Simon Haines
Reporters: Toby Longworth, Jonathan Rhodes
Walther Nernst: Gethin Alderman
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.