See science in cinemas this summer


The Coolidge is offering three free Science on Screen events on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in June, July and August.

“The birds”

Back in 2005, the people at Coolidge Corner Theater suggested that science can be fun, especially when the subject is linked to how it’s portrayed in movies. The resulting Science on Screen series was a hit from the start.

Coolidge programmers selected films that had a science theme and then invited a guest speaker from the scientific community to give a keynote address explaining how science worked in film.

Features in that first year included “The Elephant Man,” which discusses genetic mutations in disease progression; “A Brief History of Time” and a Lecture on Particle Physics and the History of the Universe; and Jaws, with some revelations about why we fear great whites.

Normally paused during the summer months, Science on Screen is trying something new this time. The Coolidge is bringing it outdoors in partnership with the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, with three free films and talks taking place on the Greenway on three summer Wednesdays at sunset.

The schedule is as follows.

June 15: The Birds (1963). Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film, based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier, tells the tale of how our feathered friends become deadly enemies in a small town in California. The introduction by Harvard evolutionary biologist and ornithologist Dr. Scott V. Edwards focuses on the molecular evolution of birds. Note: The film does not contain music.

July 13: “Quake” (1990). Ron Underwood’s mix of horror and comedy shows what happens to the population (14 people) of a desert town when giant, sharp-toothed worms rise from the ground and turn out to be hungry for humans. The paleobotanist Dr. Boston College’s Paul Strother will talk about real-world organisms (smaller and much less dentate) that resemble those in the film. Note: The creatures are referred to as Graboids.

August 10: “Fast Five” (2011). Justin Lin’s third stint in the director’s chair as part of the Fast & Furious franchise leads to the Toretto gang being hunted by the FBI in Rio de Janeiro as a $100 million bank robbery is planned. No speaker has been announced yet, but the topic could easily revolve around the physics that would be involved in two cars hauling a 9,000-pound steel vault through the city streets at high speed. Note: The film was primarily shot in Puerto Rico, not Brazil.

The free screenings take place on the Rose Kennedy Greenway between India Street and Milk Street in Boston and begin at sunset. If it rains, they will take place the next day.

See other events See science in cinemas this summer

Lindsay Lowe

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