A Beautiful Mind (2001 film)

How many of you have heard about Game theory ? I am sure very few know about it. Game theory has a wide range of applications, including psychology, evolutionary biology, war, politics, economics, and business. Despite its many advances, game theory is still a young and developing science. John Forbes Nash Jr. (June 13, 1928 – May 23, 2015) was an American mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory. John Nash is the only person to be awarded both the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the Abel Prize.

So most of you will wonder how is this relevant to you ? Well, you may not realize this but your life is influenced heavily by the concepts of Game Theory. John Nash, has therefore made a significant contribution to your daily life. If you want to know about John Nash, then simply watch the movie made in the year 2001, A Beautiful Mind. This movie grossed over $313 million worldwide and won four Academy Awards.

In 1947, John Nash arrives at Princeton University for studying mathematics. He meets fellow math and science graduate students. Determined to publish his own original idea, Nash is inspired when he and his classmates discuss how to approach a group of women at a bar. Nash argues that a cooperative approach would lead to better chances of success, and develops a new concept of governing dynamics. He publishes an article on his theory, earning him an appointment at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). 

In 1953, Nash is invited to the Pentagon to crack encrypted enemy telecommunications, which he manages to decipher mentally. Bored with his regular duties at MIT, including teaching, he is recruited by the mysterious William Parcher of the United States Department of Defense with a classified assignment: to look for hidden patterns in magazines and newspapers to thwart a Soviet plot. Nash becomes increasingly obsessive in his search for these patterns, delivering his results to a secret mailbox, and comes to believe he is being followed.

One of his students, Alicia Larde, asks him to dinner, and they fall in love. On a return visit to Princeton, Nash runs into Charles and his niece, Marcee. With Charles’ encouragement, he proposes to Alicia and they marry. Nash fears for his life after surviving a shootout between Parcher and Soviet agents, and learns Alicia is pregnant, but Parcher forces him to continue his assignment. While delivering a guest lecture at Harvard University, Nash tries to flee from people he thinks are Soviet agents, led by psychiatrist Dr. Rosen, but is forcibly sedated and committed to a psychiatric facility.

Dr. Rosen tells Alicia that Nash has schizophrenia and that Charles, Marcee, and Parcher exist only in his imagination. Alicia backs up the doctor, telling Nash that no “William Parcher” is in the Defense Department and takes out the unopened documents he delivered to the secret mailbox. Nash is given a course of insulin shock therapy and eventually released. Frustrated with the side effects of his antipsychotic medication, he secretly stops taking it and starts seeing Parcher and Charles again.

In 1956, Alicia discovers Nash has resumed his “assignment” in a shed near their home. Realizing he has relapsed, Alicia rushes to the house to find Nash had left their infant son in the running bathtub, believing “Charles” was watching the baby. Alicia calls Dr. Rosen, but Nash accidentally knocks her and the baby to the ground, believing he’s fighting Parcher. As Alicia flees with the baby, Nash stops her car and tells her he realizes that “Marcee” isn’t real because she doesn’t age, finally accepting that Parcher and other figures are hallucinations. Against Dr. Rosen’s advice, Nash chooses not to restart his medication, believing he can deal with his symptoms himself, and Alicia decides to stay and support him.

Nash returns to Princeton, approaching his old rival Hansen, now head of the mathematics department, who allows him to work out of the library and audit classes. Over the next two decades, Nash learns to ignore his hallucinations and, by the late 1970s, is allowed to teach again. In 1994, Nash wins the Nobel Prize for his revolutionary work on game theory, and is honored by his fellow professors. At the ceremony, he dedicates the prize to his wife.

The movie is a marvel to watch as it depicts the life of a great mathematician struggling with his mental health and still managing to sustain his genius talent. There are moments where you feel that John Nash must simply wind up and retire permanently to live a peaceful life with his family. His problems due to schizophrenia are so immense that you feel sorry for him and his family. His wife stands by him determinedly and ultimately John Nash comes out of his mental illness. With some support from his colleague, he slowly crawls back to normal life and sees super success. He is awarded the Nobel Prize in the end. It is almost unbelievable to see him come out as winner in spite of the severe mental illness. The movie gives us hope and reassurance that nothing is impossible to achieve if one is determined for it.  The other dimension of the movie is that it shows you the world of research, academics in big universities and how professionals work in such areas. Focus and dedication is required to succeed in the field of research.

This movie is meant for family view and I encourage it to show it to your school and college going children.

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