Marjane Satrapi • Director of Radioactive
“I love Marie Curie because she doesn’t compromise”
by Kaleem Aftab
- At the Zurich Film Festival, Cineuropa caught up with director Marjane Satrapi to talk about Radioactive and her fascination with Marie Curie
Radioactive [+see also:
interview: Marjane Satrapi
film profile] is a film about Marie Curie based on the graphic novel by Lauren Redniss. It’s directed by Marjane Satrapi, who made a name for herself in cinema by adapting her own graphic novel, Persepolis [+see also:
interview: Marc-Antoine Robert
interview: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Pa…
film profile], for the big screen in 2007. The autobiographical Persepolis told of how Satrapi grew up in a Marxist family in Iran and was sent to live in Vienna after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Now based in France, Satrapi moved to live-action filmmaking in 2011, making Chicken With Plums [+see also:
film profile]. Since then, she has helmed Gang of the Jotas [+see also:
film profile] (2012) and the comedy-horror The Voices [+see also:
film profile] (2014). We talked to her about Radioactive at the Zurich Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Where did your interest in Marie Curie start?
Marjane Satrapi: My mother was not an independent woman. Her life’s dream was that I would become an independent woman, someone like Marie Curie, who became a role model for me to such an extent that I even wrote in Persepolis, “I really want the destiny of my life to be that I catch cancer researching science.”
What did you discover making the film?
I grew up with the myth of Madame Curie, but it was not until I made Radioactive that I discovered lots of things – for example, I didn’t know that there was this whole nationalistic, racist movement against her, nor did I know about her participation in World War I.
Jack Thorne wrote the script; how did you put your imprint on it?
When I met with the producers for the first time, they said, “We have a script that will cost $80 million, but we cannot put $80 million into a film like that because there is no Batman.” I tried to add a bit of humour and to make the script fit the budget that made sense for the picture.
Did you relate to her struggles with being a woman and being one of the only ones working in a certain field?
Something that I agree with is that she never really overstated her womanhood. It was like she thought, “Do I need to prove I’m better? I already know I’m better, so what do I have to prove?” She was never part of a feminist movement, but what she does is far more feminist. I’ve always worked in a male-dominated industry, but I never thought about it.
You show a good and a bad side to the scientist.
I like that she is sometimes not likeable, because these are things that we accept very easily when it comes to men. Take Picasso, for example, who was such an arsehole with women, but he was such a genius, so it was overlooked. But as soon as it comes to women, we have to be great mothers and lovers, dance well and cook well, and you must always be kind. I’m not always kind, and I don’t know any woman who is always kind – not a single one. The temper of women is like the temper of men; we are just human beings. I didn’t try to make her a very likeable person. I love her because she doesn’t compromise.
How did you come to cast Rosamund Pike?
If you are intelligent, you can pretend to be stupid, but if you are stupid, you cannot pretend to be intelligent; it doesn’t work both ways. Rosamund, when you meet her, is very beautiful, very tall and very blonde: she is a huge brain on two legs.
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