The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Nobel Prize Winner Eric Kandel Talks About New Documentary,
  “In Search of Memory”

“In Search of Memory,” a new documentary about the life and career of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel, concerns itself with things like the Hippocampus and the cell count of sea snails. Not exactly popcorn-munching subjects. But the film somehow works, largely because director Petra Seeger delicately weaves the complex science of memory with a more personal story.

The spine of the documentary is a trip Kandel and his wife took to Europe, where, 50 years earlier, they each fled the Nazis (Kandel, a boy at the time, sailed to New York from Austria with his older brother and settled in Brooklyn). Eventually, the focus shifts from war-torn Europe to the research lab, where Kandel made the discoveries that have won him international acclaim.

Throughout the film, the scientist offers lucid explanations for how our memory works, and why it’s so vital to the human experience. The fact that Kandel experienced such childhood trauma during the war yet dedicated his life to memory is a testament to his character, as are the scenes where he returns to Vienna and embraces a country that once spurned his people.

“In Search of Memory” opens today at the IFC Center in New York. To mark the film’s release, Kandel stopped by the Wall Street Journal offices for a video interview with Speakeasy.