Beautiful Mind a Film Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Beautiful Mind" -- a Film

John Forbes Nash, Jr., an American Nobel Prize-winning mathematician, is such a notable individual that he is the subject of a book, a PBS documentary and a film. The film A Beautiful Mind (Crowe, et al. 2006) eliminates aspects of Nash's life and rewrites other aspects revealed in the book and documentary, possibly to make Nash a more sympathetic character for the audience. However, the film remains true to a consistent theme: in an individual's quest for satisfaction through self-fulfillment, the abnormal can also be the extraordinary.

The book and PBS documentary tell John Forbes Nash, Jr.'s story "from the outside looking in," immediately noting his abnormality in that he is a paranoid schizophrenic. The film takes a different approach, "from the inside looking out," so we experience the world as Nash experiences it and do not realize until half-way through the film that he is mentally ill and delusional. We meet the college roommate, Charlie, his daughter, Marcee, and a mysterious person named William Parcher, who wants Nash to crack a top-secret code. Seeing the world through Nash's eyes, we accept all these people as real; however, about half-way through the film, we realize that Nash is imagining these people and much of his world: a little girl runs through a group of birds but none of the birds is disturbed or flies away, which makes the audience wonder, "Is this real?"; with the relentless prodding of Parcher, Nash becomes scarily obsessed, looking for secret messages in newspapers and magazines and finding odd connections between letters and numbers, and the audience thinks, "This guy is mentally ill."; Nash is eventually diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and we finally realize that he is officially seriously mentally ill; Nash seems to be handling the illness pretty well because he marries and has a child but then the baby nearly drowns because of his illness; Nash seems to be handling the delusions pretty well but then his wife finds stacks of "code-cracking" papers as he keeps being plunged into insanity and looking for "secret codes," making the audience see that his delusions keep coming and disrupting his life. In this way, the film gives the audience a strong, disturbing taste of Nash's abnormality because we are repeatedly fooled just as Nash is fooled, and then realize that we have all been fooled. As the film's Dr. Rosen states, "There is nothing scarier than finding out that the people you know have not died or gone away, but were never even there to begin with" (Crowe, et al. 2006), and we have that scary experience along with Nash.

Though Nash is clearly abnormal, he is also clearly an ambitious genius. The book and documentary take some time to show that developing ambition and exceptional intellect. The film is far more direct and lays out both the ambition and the genius early on: as an exceptional mathematical student…

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Works Cited

A Beautiful Mind. Directed by Ron Howard. Performed by Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Paul Bettany. 2006.

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