Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Explained in One of the Earliest Science Films Ever Made (1923)

Albert Ein­stein devel­oped his the­o­ry of spe­cial rel­a­tiv­i­ty in 1905, and then men­tal­ly mapped out his the­o­ry of gen­er­al rel­a­tiv­i­ty between 1907 and 1915. For years to come, the rest of the world would try to catch up with Ein­stein, try­ing to under­stand the gist, let alone the full impli­ca­tions, of his ground­break­ing ideas.

Above, you can watch one such attempt. Pro­duced by Max and David Fleis­ch­er, best known for their Bet­ty Boop and Super­man car­toons, The Ein­stein The­o­ry of Rel­a­tiv­i­ty used the pow­er of ani­ma­tion to explain rel­a­tiv­i­ty to a broad, non-sci­en­tif­ic audi­ence in 1923. One of the first edu­ca­tion­al sci­ence films ever made, the silent ani­mat­ed film was cre­at­ed with the assis­tance of sci­ence jour­nal­ist Gar­rett P. Serviss and oth­er experts who had a han­dle on Ein­stein’s the­o­ries. Accord­ing to a biog­ra­phy of Max Fleis­ch­er, the film was “an out-and-out suc­cess.” “The crit­ics and the pub­lic applaud­ed it. And Ein­stein did too, appar­ent­ly deem­ing it an “excel­lent attempt to illus­trate an abstract sub­ject.”

Watch the short film above. And find it added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

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Relat­ed Con­tent 

Hear Albert Ein­stein Read “The Com­mon Lan­guage of Sci­ence” (1941)

Bertrand Russell’s ABC of Rel­a­tiv­i­ty: The Clas­sic Intro­duc­tion to Ein­stein (Free Audio)

Albert Ein­stein Appears in Remark­ably Col­orized Video & Con­tem­plates the Fate of Human­i­ty After the Atom­ic Bomb (1946)

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