Rai Radio Televisione Italiana
Rai Fiction – Ciao Ragazzi
A film by:
Scientific and Historical Consultant:
Prof. Gino Isidori
Treatment and Script by:
Massimo De Rita
Luna Park Ed. Musicali
Autumn 1948. Princeton, New Jersey. Albert Einstein, the world’s most famous scientist, the inventor of the Theory of Relativity and father of modern science, has been living and working here for a long time.
He’s in his seventies when he walks into a music store and bumps into Milena Maric, his first wife, the mother of their two sons: Hans Albert and Eduard. They haven’t seen each other since 1932 when he had to escape Nazi Germany.
Overcoming the initial shock, Einstein and Mileva start to reminiscent their past life together: from the first time they met in Zurich’s polytechnic, to their falling in love and the decision of spending their life together while everything was so fresh and filled with possibilities. Mileva’s a fine mathematician and immediately understands Einstein’s genius. She gives up her own career and dedicates herself completely to supporting the future Nobel Prize Laureate in his work. They find themselves having to deal not only with professors who don’t appreciate Albert’s anarchic behavior and constant criticism of scientific theories of their time, but also with Einstein’s mother who believes Mileva’s not going to be a good mother. But Albert and Mileva don’t give up. She gives birth to a stillborn baby girl while Hans Albert, their second child, will be healthy. Completely broke, they get married. Albert has graduated and gets a job at the Patent Office. During his spare time he continues his research and in 1905 writes a paper. His work concerning the nature of light and his special theory of relativity gets published on the Annalen der Physik and causes an upheaval in the scientific world. These two discoveries will become the backbone of modern science. Einstein’s rise to fame has a negative effect on his family life. With the birth of their son Eduard, Mileva hopes to save their marriage. But conflicts between the two of them are too strong. Fame completely changes Einstein’s life. He’s often away from home, invited to take part in conferences and panels while Mileva has to stay home with the children. Their marriage is on the rocks and their boys are suffering because of this, especially Eduard, the younger who’s extremely sensitive and has mental problems. Fame also brings many enemies, and Einstein’s biggest enemy is Kurt Kluge, his ex-classmate from back at the polytechnic who unsuccessfully tried to steal his work away from him. But nothing stops Albert who continues to collect accolades on accolades. Just before World War One breaks out, Einstein bumps into Elsa, a second-degree cousin who recently has been widowed. She becomes his lover. Mileva finds out, she’s deeply hurt a so are their children: they’re old enough to understand what is going on and take their mother’s side, openly criticizing their father’s behavior. Meanwhile, two famous German scientists, Max Plank and Walter Nernst are sent by Emperor Wilhelm II to offer him the job as Chair of Berlin’s Institute of Physical Theory. Albert accepts. He moves to Berlin also to be closer to Elsa. The war ends, many men are killed, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapses. Albert has always been a pacifist and this is the reason why he has so many enemies in the academic and the political world to the point that an Anti-Einstein association is set up. He’ll never feel victimized by these events thanks to his wisdom and great sense of humor. The end of World War One also marks the end of Albert and Mileva’s marriage. They divorce.
After having spent the whole day reminiscing, Albert and Mileva are tired. Their sweet and sour memories have brought them closer. They realize that their sentimental relationship was in great part an extraordinary human and scientific adventure. She asks him to meet up the following day but he turns her offer down: he can’t stand the pain of these memories. Mileva confesses that she’s dying.
After a night of bad dreams and visions, Albert decides to go meet Mileva after all. They bring
other memories out of the darkness: when Albert’s theories got confirmed and tested by a group of British scientists at London’s Royal Astronomic Society. A group of members of this Society left on an expedition in Africa where they’ll witness the total eclipse of the sun. Their results will confirm his Theory of Relativity. It’s a huge success. London’s Times magazine headline reads: A scientific revolution. The New York Times: Einstein’s Theory Triumphs. He becomes famous with the general public throughout the world. But again his success collides with German scientists’ strong opposition helmed by Kluge who attacks him for being Jewish. Meanwhile, the Nazi party that’s gaining ground identify him as one of their greatest enemies. To the point that not even the Nobel prize will placate their anger. The Nazis start to threaten and persecute Albert by forcing him to leave Germany with Elena and his assistant Helen Dukas. Einstein comes to America and moves to Princeton where he works for the Institute of Advanced Studies. Elsa dies the following year. The winds of war blow strong. World War Two is about to break out. Fermi and Szilard convince Albert to write a letter to Roosevelt asking him to develop the atomic bomb program. They need to act fast because the Germans have been working on the atomic bomb for a while now. Hans Albert and Eduard come visit him in the States. Albert is overjoyed by the possibility of building a relationship with his sick son and they leave for a road trip across America. Eduard one night runs off and gets lost. Fortunately he is found. Eduard goes back to Europe and in December 1941, the US join the war and the first US atom bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Albert is devastated: even if he wasn’t involved in the building of the bombs he’s consumed by guilt. His pacifist conviction becomes stronger. He openly starts to support and promote peace rallies. Because of his activism, the FBI will start following him convinced he’s also a supporter of communism.
There are no more memories to remember. They part promising each other to meet again the following day. But Mileva leaves for Europe without telling him. Disheartened, he throws himself in the project he’s been working on for the past years on a theory of cosmic harmony. A unified theory that proves that all physical forces are expression of the same principle. The scientific world doesn’t support his theory and this saddens Albert: “I’m famous because I don’t wear socks and they like to parade me around during important occasions”. (Mileva who has been watching Einstein’s work from afar, tells him “You’re too far ahead of your times”). Meanwhile, the FBI never lets him out of their sight to the point of threatening to deport him. Albert doesn’t let this affect him and continues his work until his own body starts to let him down. He’s rushed to the hospital, he’s in critical condition. He’s doesn’t want to be hospitalized, he wants to go home, but his conditions deteriorate. Hans Albert comes to visit him and they finally reconcile. It’s the middle of the night when Albert realizes his life is coming to an end and in a frenzy dictates his scientific and spiritual will to a nurse. She’s convinced he’s delirious. But actually Einstein is in complete possession of his faculties and can finally understand the heart of the universe. His description of what he’s seeing unfortunately is not very clear and made up of too many numbers for the confused nurse who’s got only a couple of pieces of paper and a pen with no ink. These lists of scientific formulas and philosophical concepts are Einstein’s final words. He dies. But what the nurse has written in complete gibberish, she was only doodling. All she wanted to do was make him happy. But those notes that are intelligible speak of his vision of cosmic harmony that scientists only now have been studying. Mileva, his first scientific companion was right when she said “as usual, you’re too far ahead of your times.”