Film Analysis: A Beautiful Mind Assignment

Film Analysis: A Beautiful Mind Assignment Words: 645

August 10, 2006 Background It is 1947 and John Nash has arrived at Princeton for graduate study in mathematics. “The mysterious “West Virginia genius” has no prep school legacy or old money ties to cushion his entry into the Ivy League – just Princeton’s most prestigious fellowship to signify that he does indeed belong. It’s not an easy fit for Nash, or for Princeton.

Social niceties mean nothing to him; neither does attending class. He is obsessed with just one thing: finding a truly original idea. That, he’s convinced, is the only way he will ever matter. Relevance to Economics Princeton’s math department is brutally competitive and some of Nash’s classmates would love to see him fail. Still, they tolerate him, and inadvertently incite him to greatness. He’s with them one night in a local bar when their reaction to a hot blonde grabs his attention. As Nash observes their rivalry, the idea that has been haunting him bursts into focus.

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His resulting paper on game theory – the mathematics of competition – boldly contradicts the doctrines of Adam Smith, the father of modern economics. One-hundred-fifty years of accepted thought is abruptly outdated, and Nash’s life is changed forever. Many Minds of John Nash Nash subsequently wins a coveted research and teaching post at MIT, but is not satisfied. Science had played a huge role in bringing about America’s triumph in World War II, and now, as the Cold War rages, Nash yearns to play a role in this new conflict. His wish is granted when the Parcher recruits him for a top-secret assignment as an enemy code breaker.

Nash throws himself into this consuming effort while continuing his work at MIT. It is there that he is challenged in an altogether new way by the beautiful and brilliant Alicia, a physics student who introduces Nash to a concept he’d never seriously considered—love. Nash and Alicia marry, but he cannot confide the dangerous project he has undertaken for Parcher. The work, the secrecy and the danger take their toll, as Nash becomes is secretive, obsessed, and finally lost in a world of overpowering delusions. He is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

At this point we find that, not only his college roommate, but Parcher and his work for the Department of Defense are all hallucinations caused by his illness. Devastated by the implications of her husband’s condition, his wife Alicia struggles under the strain of loving a broken genius. The glamorous that once was has vanished as each day seems to bring new horror, but Alicia can still glimpse the charismatic man she fell in love with, which further fuels her commitment to him. Inspired by her unwavering love and faith, Nash finally decides to fight a disease thought to be not only incurable, but degenerative.

This humbled Nash has simpler goals, but they are even harder to achieve. Still burdened by demons, still driven by the intoxicating demands of mathematical theory, he is determined to find his own kind of normalcy. Through sheer force of will, he continues his work and in 1994, receives the Nobel Prize. Synopsis While John Nash is obsessed with breaking codes, A Beautiful Mind is really a film about learning to read social codes. It teaches viewers what ways of making sense of the world are acceptable, what ways are not and, in doing so, legitimates a particular world view.

In its portrayal of Nash the film naturalizes a world divided into haves and have-nots by teaching viewers how to find their “place” in existing social relations. Today Nash’s theories influence global trade negotiations, and even breakthroughs in evolutionary biology. We are further shown that not only must we accept the differences in others, but we must accept the differences within ourselves as well. Reference Grazer, B. (Producer), & Howard, R. (Director). (2001). A Beautiful Mind [Motion picture]. United States: Universal Pictures/Dreamworks Pictures.

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