Archive for April 27th, 2016

A Beautiful Mind  (2001)  —  movie review
This movie asks the question:  is it possible to separate genius from insanity?  The movie is an adaptation of the book (biography) of the same name written by Sylvia Nasar.  The movie relates the story of American mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr.  Nash won the Nobel Prize (shared actually) for Economics in 1994 for work he did back in 1950 on “Game Theory” – more specifically on non-cooperative games.  Russell Crowe, of “Gladiator” fame, stars as Nash and Jennifer Connelly stars as his long suffering wife, Alicia Nash.  “Long suffering” because she cared for him most of his adult life as Nash himself suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
I read the book (way back when) and I bought and watched the DVD, too, but really didn’t remember either in much detail.  About all I remembered was the bit about agreeing to work in your own self interest as long as it doesn’t detract from the total group interest of the group you belong to.  In other words, you can do anything you want to do as long what you do doesn’t hurt your team.  In a world which had long accepted “dog-eat-dog” / “me first” as the fundamental of economic theory, this was a shock.  Essentially, it means if we all benefit (more or less) from “the game”, no one should try to destroy the game to keep anyone else from winning or from benefiting a little more than everyone else.  At least, this is the rational course of action.
The movie is beautifully shot and Connelly is simultaneously drop-dead gorgeous and sympathetic in her role.  I must admit to not being a big Crowe fan.  I haven’t seen many of his films, so my opinion is somewhat biased here, but I think this was the first movie where I thought, “Wow!  This guy CAN act.”  What I really found interesting was that there is “chemistry” between the two leads, but it didn’t strike me as sexual chemistry – even when it was meant to by the scenes.  They “seemed” to me to be adult friends who genuinely cared about each other – loved rather than being in love.  Either way, I thought they were both excellent in their respective roles.
Maybe I understand the concept of the Nash Equilibrium better than before, even if I still have no clue about the math behind it.  Final recommendation:  moderate to strong recommendation.  I don’t really feel like I understand schizophrenia any more than before watching this movie.  I’m not sure if we are meant to.  Nash himself said it was difficult to separate the delusions from the real because both the delusions and his mathematical genius both came from the same place:  his mind.  Is it possible to separate genius from insanity?  The answer seems to be:  only with love.
…My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back.  And I’ve made the most important discovery of my life.  It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logical reasons can be found.
     —    John Nash
On This Day In:
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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