OK, picture Einstein. Ready?
“Frisky” might not be the first word most would associate with the frizzy-haired physicist — but maybe we should think again, Gabe Polsky ’02 said.
“I wouldn’t say he was a womanizer,” Polsky explained. “But I think he believed that marriage was an archaic institution.”
Polsky Films, the production company that Gabe runs with his brother Alan, recently licensed the rights to make the first biographical movie about Albert Einstein.
According to IMDb, the film should be released sometime in 2009. Polsky, the company’s creative executive, said that the film will be an “epic treatment” of Einstein’s story, incorporating episodes from his childhood but centering on his life between the ages of 20 and 40, when, Polsky said, all the major biographical themes he wants to include “come into play.” Polsky described “The Aviator” and “Amadeus” as models for the sort of story he hopes to tell.
Still, the Einstein biopic involves challenges not faced by those films. After all, Howard Hughes may be famous and Mozart may be a legend, but neither is a noun: “Einstein” has taken on a life of its own as a synonym for “genius.”
Who do you cast as TIME magazine’s person of the century? An A-list actor would draw box-office profit, Polsky pointed out, but could also prove distracting to audiences. Polsky declined to discuss potential Einsteins, but said that he expects to see some noteworthy names attached to the project in the near future.
Polsky Films hopes to bring to life the man behind the legendary name, incorporating a number of qualities that the typical moviegoer might not immediately associate with Einstein. A major theme of the movie will be what Polsky called Einstein’s “inherent rebelliousness” and “anti-status quo” attitude. And the physicist’s personal life was just as complicated as his scientific ideas, Polsky said, citing his complex relationships with his wives and children. Aside from personal escapades and revolutionary science, Einstein’s biography also has enormous historical import. As Polsky pointed out, Einstein lived through two World Wars, was a Jew in Nazi Germany and precipitated the development of the atom bomb.
Princeton University Press, which publishes Einstein’s collected papers, gave its seal of approval to the Polsky Films project, and Walter Isaacson, whose upcoming book “Einstein: His Life and Universe” uses letters recently released by Princeton, will serve as a consultant on the film. Andrew DeSio, publicity manager at the Press, said that the film also had the potential to shed light on Einstein’s political significance, noting his involvement in Zionism and the dichotomy between his contributions to the creation of the atomic bomb and his later pacifism.
“We’re thrilled,” said DeSio of the forthcoming movie, “because [Einstein is] such an icon for us.”
Adam Shott ’04, Polsky’s fellow Yalie and a producer at Polsky Films, easily summed up the appeal of an Einstein biography.
“What’s fascinating is that Einstein has a position of instantaneous authority,” Shott said. “He immediately connotes genius.”