The Destiny of Human Intelligence in the 20th – 21st Century
It is really tragic for our culture that it took an exceptional Italian director to make an epic fiction (interpretative) film about the destiny of one of scientific geniuses of humankind – that for American cinema this task was creatively too demanding and not too financially promising.
Really talented director is the one who doesn’t need always rush to prove her/his talent – formal talent and semantic and communicational virtuosity which are characteristic for Cavani, cannot be separated from the topic and the historical period (that is intimately connected with the audience’s sensibility). In “Einstein” Cavani subordinates her ability to monitor the medium and associate visually the elements of the material she is making film about, to the incredible personality of an extraordinary physicist, to his personal destiny that cannot be separated from the history of the 20th and 21st centuries and from the destiny of humankind in general. The film looks “realistic” but the director’s ability to analyze the reality and to analogize and symbolize its elements is here, in the depth of the images.
Psychological characterizations of Einstein as a human being are profound and sharp – in the very manner he walks, in his ontological calmness, humility and confidence, in his love life we see reflected his psychological structure. We see how his incredible creative potential determines his libidinous energies. We observe how his personality (influenced by his encounter with human and the social environments) influences the characters of his sons – how much psychologically they are his children despite the years of separation, but they’re also influenced by his conflict with the world which is reflected in their conflict with him.
The very important accent of the film is how intelligence in both Einstein and his first wife Mileva (mother of their children) was influencing their relationship independently (but in the connection to) of “love”, “responsibility”, “decency” and such.
But not less important (and, certainly, most Cavaniesque) ingredient of the film is the characterization of socio-political reaction on Einstein’s personality, work and his humanistic position by the European Nazis and the American conservatives. For Cavani, like for all of us it was necessary to witness the eight years of conservative rule in US to be able to grasp the tragic similarity of both groups in their position toward human and nature’s intelligence as such – their antidemocratic desire to control human thinking, to be suspicious of science and try to dominate other people and world in general.
People like Einstein are never oriented on fight for a place in the social hierarchy, on personal enrichment and hate of human otherness.