Analysis of A Beautiful Mind
The main characters John Nash, played by Russel Crowe, Charles Herman, a figment roommate of John’s imagination played by Paul Bettany, and Alicia Larde, Nash’s wife played by Jennifer Connely, interact in a fascinating journey that parallels the life of the real man, professor, and Nobel Prize winner John Nash during his life at Princeton and professorship at MIT. John Nash is famous for he genius talent for Mathematics, contributions to the study of governing dynamics which is more commonly referred to as group theory, and his remarkable paranoid schizophrenia. In the movie Nash marries Alicia Larde without either person being aware of his paranoid schizophrenia because the people Nash interacts with in his mind are just as real to him as anybody else. The fantasies in John’s mind begin to consume him as he imagines that he is a code cracker of the highest caliber working for the United States Department of Defense during the Cold War. Nash’s schizophrenia is treated with medicine that inhibits his ability to “work” or do math problems and completely destroys his sex drive and social attachments.
Nash obviously has an aversion to his medicine and he stops taking it even though he can be dangerous without it. Nash has to learn how to handle his paranoid schizophrenia or people may get hurt. All the while classical music often plays in the background one of which I can play myself, Piano Sonata No.11 in A Major by Mozart. I wanted to learn more about psychological disorders before watching A Beautiful Mind. Particularly the treatment and diagnosis of a disorder could be seen through the most famous case study of paranoid schizophrenia.
I have asked myself a few times if I want to be a math major in college and Nash has both my hero and my greatest fear at the same time as an answer to that question. I realize that I will probably not become a schizophrenic, but mathematicians seem to regularly go off the wall, which worries me. This film won an academy award and is one of my favorite movies of all time. It is better to watch this movie with no expectations or knowledge of John Nash because the plot twists are absolutely wrenching if you are not expecting characters to not be real in a movie. In fact, the first time I watched this movie I had no clue what schizophrenia was.
Knowing who John Nash is makes it slightly more amazing that the movie parallels a real life story. Characterization and storyline are the best aspects of A Beautiful Mind. The characters are easy to relate to because of the detailed information given regarding their personalities and the clear and compelling conflicts. The story is inspiring because of the sheer brilliance of Nash and the resilience of his wife. Many other parts of the movie, for example the music selection or its scene writing, make A Beautiful Mind worthy of the Academy award, but it is most notable for its characters and their tremendous struggles and accomplishments. The film is extremely well acted and well written.
When Russell Crowe twitches and stares wildly it is easy to believe he is having a schizophrenic episode. The script is witty and reflects the unconventional acumen of John Nash. I heard once that the movie director Quentin Tarentino doesn’t ever waste a scene, that each scene has a purpose. Every scene in A Beautiful Mind gives insight into the lives of the characters also partly because the scenes are well acted to convey the details of a director’s message. A Beautiful Mind is not a perfect movie.
For one, the movie is now old and the animations are “see through” in a way that fortunately does not seriously hinder the movie’s appeal. The schizophrenia is not perfectly explained. I remember one scene where Nash watches his imaginary roommate heave a desk out of the window, which obviously could not be done unless Nash did it himself. The music was a bit too melancholy for my taste though it does augment the emotions in the movie. On a whole I cannot offer deep criticisms that affect the direction of the movie or depiction of Nash’s life. I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who has not seen it.
I recommend the movie even more wholeheartedly if the person likes math or is above the age of 10. I will give the most compelling reason to watch this movie that is somewhat rare in today’s day and age, which is that you will learn something. Look up the name John Nash on Google and a plethora of writing will be available. A PBS documentary has good coverage of Nash’s life and may offer a little more story with a little less drama if that is an interest.