In Search of Memory | Chicago Reader

In Search of Memory

Neuroscientist Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his study of how neurons allow us to store memories, and this German documentary by Petra Seeger, adapted from Kandel’s book of the same title, explains his findings while dipping into his memories of the Holocaust. Born in Vienna, Kandel still recalls the Nazi annexation of Poland, his family’s escape to the U.S., and their impoverished life in Brooklyn. There are some interesting scenes of the professor returning to Austria and New York to inspect some of the locales from his past, and as he points out, the Jewish admonition to “never forget” has a particular resonance for him. Yet the substance and the biology of memory are really two different things, and the documentary’s halves don’t inform each other as much as one might hope; the biographical segments provide welcome emotional relief from Kandel’s rather arcane work, but the expected synthesis between them never quite materializes. 94 min.

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