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Silly film about a great man

THE COMPLEX life of John Forbes Nash, a great mathematician awarded a Nobel prize in 1994, has unfortunately been turned into a cheap Hollywood story of a man with schizophrenia. Nash's life work, "the equilibrium point concept" that influenced fields as diverse as political science, economics and biology, remains unexplored.
There are indeed many things that could have been said about Nash in film. He was admitted to Princeton University in 1948 as one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his time. "The Phantom of the Fine Hall" was a figure many students saw wandering through the corridors wearing purple sneakers and scribbling on blackboards.


RUSSELL CROWE as 'mad scientist' Nash.
photo: Courtesy of Tatrafilm

A Beautiful Mind

Running time: 136 min
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany
Directed by: Ron Howard
Rating: 3 out of 10
See page 11 for movie times in Slovakia

THE COMPLEX life of John Forbes Nash, a great mathematician awarded a Nobel prize in 1994, has unfortunately been turned into a cheap Hollywood story of a man with schizophrenia. Nash's life work, "the equilibrium point concept" that influenced fields as diverse as political science, economics and biology, remains unexplored.

There are indeed many things that could have been said about Nash in film. He was admitted to Princeton University in 1948 as one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his time. "The Phantom of the Fine Hall" was a figure many students saw wandering through the corridors wearing purple sneakers and scribbling on blackboards.

But instead of a brilliant mind who perceives the world as a constellation of numbers and algorithms, Hollywood gives us a poor madman suffering from schizophrenia. There is nothing moving about this film Nash (Russell Crowe) - his world remains a cold mystery, and he seems to both hate and diminish the people around him.

Apart from Crowe, who gives a typical 'mad scientist' performance, we get another puzzle in his beautiful wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) who loves her husband endlessly and would sacrifice herself for him. But with her sex-appeal we are left wondering what she sees in Nash. The movie tells us she loves him for his mind.

"A Beautiful Mind" is based partially on an unauthorised biography written last year by Sylvia Nasar, an economist and journalist who conducted hundreds of interviews with Nash's relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances for this purpose. But fact meets fiction in this movie, and seems the worse for the encounter.

First, Nasar's romanticised biography fails to mention that the life of the Nashes was far from idyllic. Nor does it mention that Alicia filed for divorce and remarried him later after he overcame his illness. The anti-social Nash (who lacked basic communication skills) was admired by women and even had some children out of wedlock.

How does it end? Happily. Tritely. Unfulfillingly.

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