“In Search of Memory,” a film by Petra Seeger chronicling neuroscientist Eric R. Kandel’s life and work, examines how one man escaped from Nazi oppression to become what one student in the film calls, "the rock star of neuroscience."
Raised in Vienna during the onset of World War II, Kandel and his Jewish family were ripped from their home by Nazi officers just after his ninth birthday. The incident left Kandel with questions he would spend the rest of his life answering through science:
What motivates us? What makes us remember certain events over others? And how does memory define us as human beings?
Runtime: 95 minutes
"I wanted to understand how cultivated, intelligent people could listen to Heiden, Mozart and Beethoven one day," he says, "and kill Jews the next."
Seeger seamlessly combines Kandel’s own recollections with archival World War II footage and old photographs. The result is a film that is part biography and part history, and an intimate glimpse into the life of one of the world’s most influential and captivating scientists.
The film takes viewers through Kandel’s childhood up through his Nobel Prize win in 2000 for his work in understanding how memories are recorded and stored in the brain.
Kandel, never without a bowtie or Muppet-sized grin, is the reason the film is must-see for science and history enthusiasts. His ability to explain complicated brain processes makes the science of the film understandable. His charm and subtle comedy make his extraordinary experiences relatable. Kandel possesses the key quality of all of the best teachersâ€”an ability to teach viewers about the meaning of life outside of the classroom.
“In Search of Memory” will open Friday at the Kendall Square Cinema. Advance tickets are available online for $10 general admission, $8 for students.