Like most cultural high-profile events, the Nobel Prize has seen its fair share of screen time. Most films that cover the Nobel Prize are documentary, telling the story of the prize, the laureates and the ceremonies, as well as the life and deeds of Alfred Nobel. But the Nobel Prize is also used to point at something beyond the facts.
In popular culture the Nobel Prize signifies the pinnacle of human knowledge and achievement in science. When Stockholm and the ceremonies are used in a movie it is used in that way. Going to Stockholm to receive the award is the ultimate achievement and any scientist’s dream.
A fictional or fictionalised winner of the Nobel Prize is either a genius or a madman, and often both. In the console game turned movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life”, the main villain is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bioterrorist. And at least two villains from the James Bond series of movies aspire for the Nobel Prize in Physics and the Nobel Peace Prize respectively. The main character of the Swedish post-war atomic age-drama “Intill helvetets portar” (Till the Doors of Hell, 1948) is a Frankenstein-like scientist learning about responsibility for his actions and research.
Below you will find some of the appearances of the Nobel Prize in the worlds of cinema and serialized TV.
Factual and fictive Nobel Prizes of the silver screen
Nobel’s Last Will (Nobels
Sweden | Director: Peter Flinth | Actors: Malin Crépin, Björn Kjellman, Leif Andrée | IMDB
reporter Annika Bengtzon witnesses the murder of Aaron Wiesel, a controversial fictive
Nobel Laureate of Medicine, while covering the annual Nobel Banquet for tabloid
Kvällspressen. Her journalistic
investigation leads her close the power struggle within the closed and
secretive circle of the Nobel Committee.
Nobel Chor (2011)
India | Director: Suman Ghosh | Actors: Mithun Chakraborty, Soma Chakraborty, Saswata Chatterjee | IMDB
Medal awarded for Literature to Indian poet Rabindra Nath Tagore
in 1913, was stolen in 2004 and never found. The film is a fictional account of
what happened to the medal. A poor farmer finds the medal outside of his house
and embarks on a journey to return it.
Nobel Son (2007)
USA | Director: Randall Miller | Actors: Alan Rickman, Bryan Greenberg, Shawn Hatosy | IMDB
Michaelson is struggling to finish his doctoral thesis when his father, Eli
Michaelson, wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. On the eve of his father
receiving his prize, Barkley is kidnapped. The ransom is the $2 million of
Prize money. Eli refuses to pay.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
USA | Director: Ron Howard | Actors: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris | IMDB
account of mathematician John
Forbes Nash Jr. played by Russell Crowe, and the story of how he, through
the dedication and love of his wife, overcame years of suffering through schizophrenia
to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994, or more accurately “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences
in Memory of Alfred Nobel”.
Henry Fool (1995)
USA | Director: Hal Hartley | Actors: Thomas Jay Ryan, James Urbaniak, Parker Posey | IMDB
roguish but talentless novelist, befriends socially inept garbage man Simon,
and introduces him to the magical world of literature. As Simon starts his path
towards the literary heights of a Nobel Prize winning poet, Henry sinks to a
life of crime and drinking in low-life bars. One day Henry's past catches up
with him and he needs Simon to flee the country.
Tent of Miracles (Tenda
dos Milagres, 1977)
Brazil | Director: Nelson Pereira dos Santos | Actors: Hugo Carvana, Sonia Dias, Anecy Rocha | IMDB
A prominent, self-serving, but fictive, U.S. Nobel Laureate arrives in Salvador da Bahia, the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. He stirs emotions by championing a long-forgotten local writer named Pedro Archanjo, who believed that humanity would be improved only through the mixing of people and cultures.
The Prize (1963)
USA | Director: Mark Robson| Actors: Paul Newman, Elke Sommer | IMDB
winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, closet crime novelist Andrew Craig,
played by Paul Newman, finds himself swept up into Cold War intrigue. While in
Stockholm to receive his award, Craig begins to suspect that the Physics Prize
winner, Dr. Max Stratman, has been abducted and replaced by a double.
The Nobel Prize in Literature: great stories make great movies
Almost every winner of the Noble Prize for Literature has had his or her novels or short stories adapted for the big screen, or TV, at some point. Often they turn out to be movies appreciated by both critics and audience, based on strong stories that survive the transition between the different media.
The Tin Drum (1979)
Germany | Director: Volker Schlöndorff
| Actors: Mario Adorf. Angela Winkler, David Bennent | IMDB
Based on the novel by Gunter Grass, awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999.
The Piano Teacher (2001)
Austria/France/Germany | Director: Michael
Haneke | Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel | IMDB
Based on the novel by Elfriede Jelinek, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004.
Away from her (2006)
Canada/UK/USA | Director: Sarah Polley | Actors:
Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent | IMDB
Based on the novel by Alice Munro, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013.
Australia/France | Director: Anne Fontaine
| Actors: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright | IMDB
Based on the novel by Doris Lessing, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007.
And many, many more…
On this list you can probably find every adaptation you may need: http://nhq.se/IC4PLk
The Nobel Prize on TV
Big Bang Theory (2007–)
More than one episode | Creator: Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady
The West Wing (1999–2006)
More than one episode | Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Bartlet was a famous economics professor at Dartmouth University previous to
his political career. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in the late
The Simpsons (1989–)
Season 22, Episode 1: Elementary School Musical | Creator: Matt Groening
everybody’s surprise, Krusty the Clown is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Season 22, Episode 2: Loan-ah-Lisa | Creator: Matt Groening
The Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus participates in the episode where Lisa Simpson opens a micro-loan bank.
Season 15, Episode 1: Treehouse of horror XIV
| Creator: Matt Groening
Homer gets a call from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences telling him that he is the winner of the Nobel Prize. However it turns out that it is actually for Professor Frink. The Simpson’s family travels to Stockholm to attend the award ceremony.
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