Film: A Beautiful Mind

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Film:

A Beautiful Mind

Director: Ron Howard
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Dreamworks Video

A Beautiful Mind manages to twist enough pathos out of John Nash's incredible life story to redeem an at-times goofy portrayal of schizophrenia. Russell Crowe tackles the role with characteristic fervor, playing the Nobel prize-winning mathematician from his days at Princeton, where he developed a groundbreaking economic theory, to his meteoric rise to the cover of Forbes magazine and an MIT professorship, and on through to his eventual dismissal due to schizophrenic delusions. Of course, it is the delusions that fascinate director Ron Howard and,…

Reviews

Amazon.com

A Beautiful Mind manages to twist enough pathos out of John Nash's incredible life story to redeem an at-times goofy portrayal of schizophrenia. Russell Crowe tackles the role with characteristic fervor, playing the Nobel prize-winning mathematician from his days at Princeton, where he developed a groundbreaking economic theory, to his meteoric rise to the cover of Forbes magazine and an MIT professorship, and on through to his eventual dismissal due to schizophrenic delusions. Of course, it is the delusions that fascinate director Ron Howard and, predictably, go astray. Nash's other world, populated as it is by a maniacal Department of Defense agent (Ed Harris), an imagined college roommate who seems straight out of Dead Poets Society, and an orphaned girl, is so fluid and scriptlike as to make the viewer wonder if schizophrenia is really as slick as depicted. Crowe's physical intensity drags us along as he works admirably to carry the film on his considerable shoulders. No doubt the story of Nash's amazing will to recover his life without the aid of medication is a worthy one, his eventual triumph heartening. Unfortunately, Howard's flashy style is unable to convey much of it. --Fionn Meade

Barnes and Noble

Barnes & Noble

Based on Sylvia Nasar’s bestselling biography of John Forbes Nash Jr., the MIT mathematician who successfully conquered mental illness and went on to win a Nobel Prize, A Beautiful Mind is a gripping melodrama with a whopper of a Sixth Sense-style twist. We first meet Nash, played by Russell Crowe, in 1947, when he is still a brilliant but highly eccentric and socially awkward mathematics student at Princeton. His remarkable work on game theory eventually lands him a position at MIT, where he meets both his wife, Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), and a sinister CIA agent (Ed Harris) who recruits him as a code breaker for the Defense Department. Director Ron Howard, who employs some clever narrative devices that allow the audience to see the world from Nash’s perspective, shows how Cold War paranoia feeds and shapes his developing schizophrenia. The depiction of Nash’s battle to banish his voices -- not through debilitating drugs but by simply refusing to listen to them -- poignantly conveys the sadness and isolation of mental illness. Crowe is as compelling as ever, but it is Connelly who is the real revelation here. Her Oscar-winning turn as the gorgeous young wife who stands by Nash through it all, weathering violent episodes and medication-induced impotence, is touching and impressively grounded. The truth of Nash’s life is, at least as revealed in Nasar's book, less tidy than what we see on screen. Howard and Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman excised all sorts of unsavory details, and the result is Hollywood myth making at its most unabashed (complete with a heavy-handed score that telegraphs every emotion). Yet, there is no denying the emotional and inspirational power that earned A Beautiful Mind Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director: It is an inspiring portrait of a gifted man, an extraordinary woman, and a remarkable triumph. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:A Beautiful Mind: Original Motion Picture Score

A Beautiful Mind: Original Motion Picture Score

James Horner

This Ron Howard film parlays the troubled story of Nobel laureate John Forbes Nash Jr., a gifted Princeton mathematics professor tormented for decades by paranoid schizophrenia, into something considerably richer than typical Hollywood triumph-against-all-odds fare. Howard has teamed here again with frequent collaborator James Horner, and it’s the composer who deftly shades the film’s difficult emotional landscape and helps impart a compelling humanity. Horner’s first task is not inconsiderable: musically portraying the arcane realm of mathematical theorems that…

Book:A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash

A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash

Sylvia Nasar

How could you, a mathematician, believe that extraterrestrials were sending you messages?” the visitor from Harvard asked the West Virginian with the movie-star looks and Olympian manner.

“Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way my mathematical ideas did,” came the answer. “So I took them seriously.”

Thus begins the true story of John Nash, the mathematical genius who was a legend by age thirty when he slipped into madness, and who—thanks to the selflessness of a beautiful woman and the loyalty of the mathematics community—emerged after decades of ghostlike existence to win a Nobel Prize and world acclaim. The inspiration for a major motion picture, Sylvia Nasar’s award-winning biography is a drama about the mystery of the human mind, triumph over incredible adversity, and the healing power of love.

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