Einstein and the Bomb ★★ — Jewish Renaissance

Netflix’s new Oppenheimer-wannabe documentary falls frustratingly short of the mark

After the smash-hit success of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer comes Einstein and the Bomb. Netflix’s new film is an obvious attempt to capitalise on the current public interest in the Atomic Age and the scientists who brought it about. Unfortunately, it offers very little insight on the subject, instead coming across as a lazy effort to jump aboard an already-rolling bandwagon.

Einstein and the Bomb is a dramatised documentary – the kind that used to be bread-and-butter for the History Channel before it became more interested in aliens and conspiracy theories. The story is framed around Einstein’s arrival in England after being forced to flee Nazi Germany, and his time spent living in a small hut in the Norfolk countryside. These sequences are based entirely on Einstein’s real words. The film’s only redeeming feature is that it’s genuinely interesting to hear the man himself opining on subjects like his secular Jewish identity, internationalism and his utter contempt for the Nazis. Sadly, these words are delivered by Irish actor Aidan McArdle, doing a cod-German accent while wearing a distractingly terrible wig.

Coming in at just over an hour, the doc runs into the same problem that every fictional portrayal of Albert Einstein faces: he is so well-known to us, his appearance is so ingrained in the popular consciousness, that any attempt to recreate him becomes a caricature. The situation isn’t helped by a script full of heavily expositional dialogue and repetitive shots of the great physicist standing around looking sad.

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