There are jokes in Albert Einstein: Relativitively Speaking, both subtle and cheerfully obvious, but Hinton takes Einstein beyond playful eccentricity and instruction towards the terrible ironic joke that history played on him. Time passes (indicated by his wife throwing talc to whiten his mop of hair) to the moment when the pacifist scientist accepted that the US should use his theoretical science and build a nuclear bomb because the Nazis were doing so. The darkening from uproarious comedy and scientific glee is handled with something close to brilliance. Thirties Princeton evaporates; Hinton holds up wartime headlines, culminating on August 6, 1945 when a few pounds of uranium destroyed Hiroshima and then on August 9, Nagasaki.
When Hinton sings, as if to himself, the words “two hundred thousand souls ... two hundred thousand souls ...” the horror and bewilderment is all the greater for his previous wonder and joy. Nothing was the same or ever will be; but on his deathbed he demands reading glasses to work on field-equations. Then comes a surprise I won’t spoil. But for respect, theatricality, wit and decency this one’s a winner.