I recently had a chance to sit down and watch the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind. Considering myself a pretty avid psychological thriller fan, and knowing very little about John Nash beforehand, I was very impressed with the movie. I finally see what all the fuss was about, as this is now one of my favorite movies. Nash has been quoted as stating, "Find a truly original idea. It is the only way I will ever distinguish myself. It is the only way I will ever matter." This is ironic considering this is exactly how I feel about the movie. The biggest things I noticed about the movie right away were how fantastic Russell Crowe's performance was and the attention paid to detail in the cinematography and editing
I was also unaware this was a Ron Howard film until recently. Not much needs to be said about the reputation of Ron Howard, but in my humble opinion I feel this is some of his best work. If you watch the bonus features on the Special Edition DVD you can see some of the interviews with John Nash himself, and how much work went into recreating this man from both a production and acting standpoint.
You can also learn a lot about the real John Nash from watching the material included on the bonus disc. There are more details about his mathematical theories and formulas, as well as the Nobel Prize he received in 1994.
One of the most popular ways to portray real life drama is in the form of movies. In the case of movies that are based on a true story, we as an audience almost feel like we are witnessing the story actually take place. A Beautiful Mind depicts for us the unforgettable life of schizophrenic John Nash and shows us just how fine the line between genius and insanity really is.
A Beautiful Mind is an unbelievable movie that would most likely impress the viewers who did not realize it was a true story until the end. Toward the end the movie gives us an update on John and his wife's current life. It is very shocking to realize this story actually took place if someone had not already known so. The film makers probably intended this movie mostly for the type of audience that enjoys real life drama, but this beautiful movie is in no way limited or exclusive to this genre.
A Beautiful Mind was, in fact, the true story of John Nash, a mathematical and code-breaking genius and his struggle with schizophrenia. At the beginning of the film, the audience realizes John is a little different, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a genius. As the movie progresses, John falls in love with a student of his and marries her (Jennifer Connelly). John then begins to meet other characters like his old roommate in college (Paul Bettany) and supposedly, under the supervision of Parcher (Ed Harris), takes a top-secret job for the government breaking overseas secret messages. The key turning point of the movie comes when the audience realizes none of these characters were real with the exception of his wife.
Most everything that took place in the movie was important to the plot with the exception of a couple of bar scenes that did not add anything to the movie except maybe a little better understanding of the confusing personality of John's friends. However, John's friends were just as weird as he was! The portrayals of everyone in A Beautiful Mind were very believable, and the traits of the different characters seemed to match. The character development of the villainous characters would seem lacking at first simply because we are not given much more than their names. The "bad guys" are purposely very weakly detailed because they were fictitious! These aspects make the movie all the more realistic and take us even deeper into John's mind.
As far as believable situations, we have no choice in A Beautiful Mind. This was a true story! The action was interesting and got the audience involved, but again this was intentionally shallow and confusing at times because it was not real.
The visual effects in this movie were excellent. The lighting added to the movie in several ways. One example was evident when John noticed the light reflecting through glasses and matched it with a pattern on someone's tie in his head. This was done to show how mathematical John's thought process is. Other similar effects were used throughout the movie to try and visualize John's thinking to the audience. Matching lights, numbers, and floating patterns would pop out and fly across the screen. These effects were very clean because the audience could "feel" John thinking and flawlessly numbers and patterns would appear, and we could tell his brain "clicked."
Camera work was also top notch in this movie. One of the best ways to recognize good camera work is evident when everyone forgets a camera is even there. The angles, pans, and transitions are so flawless in A Beautiful Mind that is as if the audience becomes a part of the different settings.
The determined impact of this film was to portray the life of a genius schizophrenic. The theme was very powerfully developed. John was so smart that he finally he realizes the characters in his head are not real and chooses to ignore them. Also, the language used was fresh and seemed to match the story well. The genius characters had incisive language, and John's wife was caring and understanding. All of these aspects tied together showed us the determined impact very strongly.
A Beautiful Mind shows the audience how close to insanity genius really comes. Although many traits of John Nash's personality were considered antisocial or undesirable, one cannot help but feel sorry for and take a liking to this poor man while watching the movie. If for no other reason this film helped give me a better understanding of the true sickness of schizophrenia and how real the imagined characters are to the victim. This was a "beautiful" portrayal of the historic life of John Nash.