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A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 Americanmarker film based on the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr., a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard and written by Akiva Goldsman. It was inspired by a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-nominated 1998 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The film stars Russell Crowe, along with Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer and Paul Bettany.

The story begins in the early years of Nash's life at Princeton Universitymarker as he develops his "original idea" that will revolutionize the world of mathematics. Early in the movie, Nash begins developing paranoid schizophrenia and endures delusional episodes while painfully watching the loss and burden his condition brings on his wife and friends.

The film opened in US cinemas on December 21, 2001. It was well-received by critics, grossed over $300 million worldwide, and went on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. It was also nominated for Best Leading Actor, Best Editing, Best Makeup, and Best Score. The film has been criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of some aspects of Nash's life. The film fictionally portrayed his hallucinations as visual and auditory, yet factually they were exclusively auditory. Also, Nasar concluded that Nash's refusal to take drugs "may have been fortunate," since their side effects "would have made his gentle re-entry into the world of mathematics a near impossibility"; in the screenplay, however, just before he receives the Nobel Prize, Nash speaks of taking "newer medications."

Plot

John Nash (Russell Crowe) arrives at Princeton Universitymarker as a new graduate student. He is a recipient of the prestigious Carnegie Prize for mathematics; although he was promised a single room, his roommate Charles Herman (Paul Bettany), a literature student, greets him as he moves in and soon becomes his best friend. Nash also meets a group of other promising math and science graduate students, Martin Hansen (Josh Lucas), Sol (Adam Goldberg), Ainsley (Jason Gray-Stanford), and Bender (Anthony Rapp), with whom he strikes up an awkward friendship. Nash admits to Charles that he is better with numbers than people, which comes as no surprise to them after watching his largely unsuccessful attempts at conversation with the women at the local bar.

The headmaster of Princeton informs Nash, who has missed many of his classes, that he cannot begin work until he finishes a thesis paper, prompting him to seek a truly original idea for the paper. A woman at the bar is what ultimately inspires his fruitful work in the concept of governing dynamics, a theory in mathematical economics.

After the conclusion of Nash's studies as a student at Princeton, he accepts a prestigious appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker (MIT), along with his friends Sol and Bender.

Five years later, while teaching a class on calculus at MIT, he places a particularly interesting problem on the chalkboard that he dares his students to solve. When his student Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly) comes to his office to discuss the problem, the two fall in love and eventually marry.

On a return visit to Princeton, Nash runs into his former roommate Charles and meets Charles' young niece Marcee (Vivien Cardone), whom he adores. Nash is invited to a secret Department of Defense facility in the Pentagonmarker to crack a complex encryption of an enemy telecommunication. Nash is able to decipher the code mentally, to the astonishment of other codebreakers. Here, he encounters the mysterious William Parcher (Ed Harris), who belongs to the United States Department of Defensemarker.

Parcher observes Nash's performance from above, while partially concealed behind a screen. Parcher gives Nash a new assignment to look for patterns in magazines and newspapers, ostensibly to thwart a Sovietmarker plot. He must write a report of his findings and place them in a specified mailbox. After being chased by Russianmarker agents and an exchange of gunfire, Nash becomes increasingly paranoid and begins to behave erratically.

After observing this erratic behavior, Alicia informs a psychiatric hospital. Later, while delivering a guest lecture at Harvard University, Nash realizes that he is being watched by a hostile group of people, and although he attempts to flee, he is forcibly sedated and sent to a psychiatric facility. Nash's internment seemingly confirms his belief that the Soviets are trying to extract information from him. He views the officials of the psychiatric facility as Soviet kidnappers. At one point, he tries to dig out of his arm an implant he received at The Pentagonmarker, causing much bleeding.

Alicia, desperate to help her husband, visits the mailbox and retrieves the never-opened "top secret" documents that Nash had delivered there. When confronted with this evidence, Nash is finally convinced that he has been hallucinating. The Department of Defense agent William Parcher and Nash's secret assignment to decode Soviet messages was in fact all a delusion. Even more surprisingly, Nash's friend Charles and his niece Marcee are also only products of Nash's mind.

After a series of insulin shock therapy sessions, Nash is released on the condition that he agrees to take antipsychotic medication; however, the drugs create negative side-effects that affect his sexual and emotional relationship with his wife and, most dramatically, his intellectual capacity. Frustrated, Nash secretly stops taking his medication and hoards his pills, triggering a relapse of his psychosis.

While bathing his infant son, Nash becomes distracted and wanders off. Alicia is hanging laundry in the backyard and observes that the back gate is open. She discovers that Nash has turned an abandoned shed in a nearby grove of trees into an office for his work for Parcher. Upon realizing what has happened, Alicia runs into the house to confront Nash and barely saves their child from drowning in the bathtub. When she confronts him, Nash claims that his friend Charles was watching their son. Alicia runs to the phone to call the psychiatric hospital for emergency assistance. Nash suddenly sees Parcher who urges him to kill his wife, but Nash angrily refuses to do such a thing. After Parcher points a gun at her, Nash lunges for him, accidentally knocking Alicia and the baby to the ground. Alicia flees the house in fear with their child, but Nash steps in front of her car to prevent her from leaving. After a moment, Nash realizes that Marcee is a hallucination, because although years have passed since their first encounter, Marcee has remained exactly the same age and is still a little girl. Realizing the implications of this fact, he tells Alicia, "She never gets old." Only then does he accept that although all three people seem completely real, they are in fact part of his hallucinations.

Caught between the intellectual paralysis of the antipsychotic drugs and his delusions, Nash and Alicia decide to try to live with his abnormal condition. Nash consciously says goodbye to the three of them forever in his attempts to ignore his hallucinations and not feed "his demons"; however, he thanks Charles for being his best friend over the years, and says a tearful goodbye to Marcee, stroking her hair and calling her "baby girl", telling them both he would not speak to them anymore. They still continue to haunt him, with Charles mocking him for cutting off their friendship, but Nash learns to ignore them.

Nash grows older and approaches his old friend and intellectual rival Martin Hansen, now head of the Princeton mathematics department, who grants him permission to work out of the library and audit classes. Even though Nash still suffers from hallucinations and mentions taking newer medications, he is ultimately able to live with and largely ignore his psychotic episodes. He takes his situation in stride and humorously checks to ensure that any new acquaintances are in fact real people, not hallucinations.

Nash eventually earns the privilege of teaching again. He is honored by his fellow professors for his achievement in mathematics, and goes on to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his revolutionary work on game theory. Nash and Alicia are about to leave the auditorium in Stockholm, when Nash sees Charles, Marcee and Parcher standing and watching him with blank expressions on their faces. Alicia asks Nash, "What's wrong?" Nash replies, "Nothing. Nothing at all." With that, they both leave the auditorium.

Cast

  • Russell Crowe as John Forbes Nash, Jr.. A mathematical genius who is obsessed with finding an original idea to ensure his legacy. There was difficulty when casting Crowe, who was well-liked by the producers, when he went to film Gladiator in a different time-zone and was difficult to reach for an extended period of time to attach him to the project.
  • Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash. A later student of Nash who catches his interest. Connelly was cast after Ron Howard drew comparisons to her and Alicia Nash, both academically and in facial features.
  • Paul Bettany as Charles Herman. Nash's cheerful, supportive roommate and best friend throughout graduate college. The character of Charles was not written to be British; however, director Brian Helgeland provided a tape of Bettany from A Knight's Tale. The filmmakers agreed that the character could be British, based on Bettany's performance in the film.
  • Ed Harris as William Parcher. A highly dedicated and forceful government agent for the Department of Defense. He recruits Nash to help fight Soviet spies.
  • Josh Lucas as Martin Hansen. Nash's friendly rival from his graduate school years at Princeton. In the end, Hansen tells Nash that nobody wins, and they are at that point to consider each other as equals.
  • Adam Goldberg as Sol. A friend of Nash's from Princeton University who is chosen, along with Bender, to work with him at MIT.
  • Anthony Rapp as Bender. A friend of Nash's from Princeton University who is chosen, along with Sol, to work with him at MIT.
  • Vivien Cardone as Marcee. Charles' young niece.
  • Christopher Plummer as Dr. Rosen. Nash's doctor at a psychiatric hospital.
  • Judd Hirsch as Helinger. The head of the Princeton mathematics department.


Production

Producer Brian Grazer first read an excerpt of Sylvia Nasar's book A Beautiful Mind in Vanity Fair. Grazer immediately purchased the rights to the film. He eventually brought the project to Ron Howard, who had scheduling conflicts and was forced to pass. Grazer later said that many A-list directors were calling with their point of view on the project. He eventually focused on a particular director, who coincidentally was only available at the same time Howard was available. Grazer was forced to make a decision and chose Howard.

Grazer then met with a number of screenwriters, mostly consisting of "serious dramatists", but he chose Akiva Goldsman instead, because of his strong passion and desire for the project. Goldsman's creative take on the project was to not allow the viewers to understand that they are viewing an alternate reality until a specific point in the film. This was done to rob the viewers of their feelings in the same way that Nash himself was. Howard agreed to direct the film based only on the first draft. He then requested that Goldsman accentuate the love story aspect.

Dave Bayer, a Barnard College Professor of Mathematics, was consulted on the mathematical equations that appear in the film. Bayer later stated that he approached his consulting role as an actor when preparing equations, such as when Nash is forced to teach a calculus class, and arbitrarily places a complicated problem on the blackboard. Bayer focused on a character who did not want to teach ordinary details and was more concerned with what was interesting. Bayer received a cameo role in the film as a professor that lays his pen down for Nash in the pen ceremony near the end of the film.

Greg Cannom was chosen to create the makeup effects for A Beautiful Mind, specifically the age progression of the characters. Russell Crowe had previously worked with Cannom on The Insider. Howard had also worked with Cannom on Cocoon. Each character's stages of makeup were broken down by the number of years that would pass between levels. Cannom stressed subtlety between the stages, but worked toward the ultimate stage of "Older Nash". It was originally decided that the makeup department would merely age Russell Crowe throughout the film; however, at Crowe's request, the makeup purposefully pulled Crowe's look towards the facial features of the real John Nash. Cannom developed a new silicone-type makeup that could simulate real skin and be used for overlapping applications, shortening the application time from eight hours to four hours. Crowe was also fitted with a number of dentures to give him a slight overbite throughout the film.

Howard and Grazer chose frequent collaborator James Horner to score the film because of familiarity and his ability to communicate. Howard said, regarding Horner, "It's like having a conversation with a writer or an actor or another director." A running discussion between the director and the composer was the concept of high-level mathematics being less about numbers and solutions, and more akin to a kaleidoscope, in that the ideas evolve and change. After the first screening of the film, Horner told Howard: "I see changes occurring like fast-moving weather systems." He chose it as another theme to connect to Nash's ever-changing character. Horner chose Welsh singer Charlotte Church to sing the soprano vocals after deciding that he needed a balance between a child and adult singing voice. He wanted a "purity, clarity and brightness of an instrument" but also a vibrato to maintain the humanity of the voice.

The film was shot 90% chronologically. Three separate trips were made to the Princeton Universitymarker campus. During filming, Howard decided that Nash's delusions should always first be introduced audibly and then visually. This not only provides a visual clue, but establishes the delusions from Nash's point of view. The real John Nash's delusions were also only auditory. A technique was also developed to visualize Nash's epiphanies. After speaking to a number of mathematicians who described it as "the smoke clearing", "flashes of light" and "everything coming together", the filmmakers decided upon a flash of light appearing over an object or person to signify Nash's creativity at work. Two night shots were done at Fairleigh Dickinson Universitymarker's campus in Florham Park, NJ, in the Vanderbilt Mansion ballroom.

Best boy grip Terry Thiessen has stated "This is a very exciting thing for me. No, I don't mean working at this movie. I mean, being interviewed at all. After all, who the hell knows what a "best boy grip" does anyway?"

Release

A Beautiful Mind received a limited release on December 21, 2001, receiving positive reviews. It was later released in America on January 4, 2002. Rotten Tomatoes showed a 78% approval rating among critics with a movie consensus stating "The well-acted A Beautiful Mind is both a moving love story and a revealing look at mental illness." Roger Ebert gave the film four stars (his highest rating) in his Chicago Sun-Times review and, along with co-host Richard Roeper on the television show Ebert & Roeper, gave the film a "thumbs up" rating. Roeper also stated "this is one of the very best films of the year". Mike Clark of USA Today gave three and a half out of four stars and also praised Crowe's performance and referred to as a welcomed follow up to Howard's previous film The Grinch; however, Desson Thomson of the Washington Post found the film to be "one of those formulaically rendered Important Subject movies", and Charles Taylor of Salon Magazine gave the film a scathing review, calling Crowe's performance "the biggest load of hooey to stink up the screen this year". The mathematics in the film were well-praised by the mathematics community, including the real John Nash.

During the five-day weekend of the limited release, A Beautiful Mind opened at the twelfth spot at the box office, peaking at the number two spot following the wide release. The film went to gross $170 million in North America and $313 million worldwide.

Also in 2002, the film was awarded four Academy Awards for Adapted Screenplay (Akiva Goldsman), Best Picture (Brian Grazer and Ron Howard), Directing (Ron Howard), and Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly). It also received four other nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe), Film Editing (Mike Hill and Daniel P. Hanley), Best Makeup (Greg Cannom and Colleen Callaghan), and Original Music Score (James Horner). The 2002 BAFTAs awarded the film Best Actor and Best Actress to Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, respectively. It also nominated the film for Best Film, Best Screenplay, and the David Lean Award for Direction. At the 2002 AFI Awards, Jennifer Connelly won for Best Featured Female Actor. In 2006, it was named #93 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers. The film was also nominated for Movie of the Year, Actor of the Year (Russell Crowe), and Screenwriter of the Year.

Divergence from actual events

The narrative of the film differs considerably from the actual events of Nash's life.The film has been criticized for this, but the filmmakers had consistently said that the film was not meant to be a literal representation. One difficulty was in portraying stress and mental illness within one person's mind. Sylvia Nasar stated that the filmmakers "invented a narrative that, while far from a literal telling, is true to the spirit of Nash's story". The film made his hallucinations visual and auditory when, in fact, they were exclusively auditory. It is true that his handlers, both from faculty and administration, had to introduce him to assistants and strangers. The PBS documentary A Brilliant Madness attempts to portray his life more accurately.

The differences were substantial. Few if any of the characters in the film, besides John and Alicia Nash, corresponded directly to actual people. The discussion of the Nash equilibrium was criticized as over-simplified. In the film, schizophrenic hallucinations appeared while he was in graduate school, when in fact they did not show up until some years later. No mention is made of Nash's supposed homosexual experiences at RAND, which Nash and his wife both denied. Nash also fathered a son, John David Stier (born 19 June 1953), by Eleanor Agnes Stier (1921–2005), a nurse whom he abandoned when informed of her pregnancy.

The movie also did not include Alicia's divorce of John in 1963. It was not until Nash won the Nobel Memorial Prize that they renewed their relationship, although she allowed him to live with her as a boarder beginning in 1970. They remarried in 2001.

Nash is shown to join Wheeler Laboratory at MIT, but there is no such lab. He was appointed as C.L.E. Moore Instructor at MIT. The pen ceremony tradition at Princeton shown in the film is completely fictitious. The film has Nash saying around the time of his Nobel prize in 1994: "I take the newer medications", when in fact Nash did not take any medication from 1970 onwards, something Nash's biography highlights. Howard later stated that they added the line of dialogue because it was felt as though the film was encouraging the notion that all schizophrenics can overcome their illness without medication. Nash also never gave an acceptance speech for his Nobel prize. A Beautiful Mind DVD commentary featuring Ron Howard, [2002] Around the time of the Oscar nominations, Nash was accused of being anti-semitic. Nash denied this and it was speculated that the accusation was designed to affect the votes inside the Academy Awards.

DVD release

A Beautiful Mind was released on VHS and DVD in the United States on June 25, 2002 as a two-disc set. The first disc featured two separate audio commentaries from director Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman, deleted scenes with optional commentary from the director, and production notes. The second disc included documentaries such as "Inside A Beautiful Mind" a making-of documentary, "A Beautiful Partnership: Ron Howard and Brian Grazer" detailing the partnership between the director and the producer, "Development of the Screenplay" discussing Akiva Goldsman scripting of the film, "The Process of Age Progression" detailing the makeup effects, "Casting Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly", "Creation of the Special Effects", "Scoring the Film", as well as "Meeting John Nash" displaying the real John Nash. Footage of the real John Nash accepting the Nobel Prize for Economics is also included along with reactions from the winners of the Academy Awards, storyboard comparisons, the theatrical trailer and an advertisement for the soundtrack to the film.

See also



References

  1. http://www.princeton.edu/mudd/news/faq/topics/nash.shtml
  2. USAToday.com
  3. A Beautiful Mind DVD featurette Casting Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, [2002]
  4. A Beautiful Mind DVD commentary featuring Ron Howard, [2002]
  5. A Beautiful Mind DVD featurette A Beautiful Partnership: Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, [2002]
  6. A Beautiful Mind DVD featurette Development of the Screenplay, [2002]
  7. A Beautiful Mind DVD featurette The Process of Age Progression, [2002]
  8. A Beautiful Mind DVD featurette Scoring the Film, [2002]
  9. A Beautiful Mind DVD featurette Scoring the Film, [2002]
  10. About.com: Ron Howard Interview
  11. Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind, Touchstone 1998
  12. Nasar book


Additional reading



External links




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