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A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind is a film based on a true story, that portrays the life of a lonely mathematics genius named John Nash who suffers from schizophrenia. The film is based upon a 1999 biography of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, although it takes considerable artistic license, changing major aspects of Nash's life.

In 2002, the film was awarded four (2001) Oscars for:

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

As the story unfolds, Nash is able to work through his illness to (in his words) "matter" in the world. This film is essentially a story of how a person can overcome a debilitating mental illness to attain a true sense of accomplishment, or some would say, even a sense of greatness. The film was directed by Ron Howard and starred Russell Crowe, and was awarded four Oscars, including an Academy Award for Best Picture and an Academy Award for Directing for 2001".

The movie has been criticized for its oversimplification of Nash's life, glossing over his alleged homosexual relationships, his anti-semitic expressions of opinion, his abandonment of a woman shortly after having fathered a child with her, and the banality of his hallucinations (eg. being "attacked by Napoleon" or being "the left foot of God"). In response to some of these allegations, the producers of the film have pointed out that the claims of Nash's relationships with men are unverified and that Nash himself has denied (and continues to deny) that he is homosexual. The producers claim that they omitted the anti-semitic remarks because they did not serve the story. Nash himself has argued that although he did make these comments, he was extremely mentally ill at the time.

Plot summary

During the first part of the film, neither the audience nor the character John Nash know that his best friend, his friend's young niece and a mysterious United States Department of Defense agent are hallucinations. The agent encourages Nash to look for patterns in magazines and newspapers, ostensibly to thwart a Soviet plot. Consequently, Nash begins to have increasingly paranoid delusions that leads him to act erratically.

After observing this erratic behavior, one of his coworkers follows him during one of Nash's late night "drops" of "top secret Soviet codes" that he had cracked. His coworker sees Nash place the documents into a drop-box at a long empty building, and reports this behaviour to Nash's superiors. After being forcibly sedated and sent to a psychiatric facility, Nash is then confronted with the truth of his schizophenia. Initially this internment feeds his paranoia that the Soviets were trying to extract information from him, but his wife is able to show him the unopened "top secret" documents, which convinces him that he has been hallucinating.

Nash is released on the condition of agreeing to take anti-psychotic drugs[?]. However, these drugs create terrible side-effects on his personality, his relationship with his wife and, most dramatically, his genius intellect. Frustrated, Nash ceases his medication, triggering a relapse of his paranoid hallucinations. Unaware, his wife permits Nash to give their infant son a bath. She discovers the truth just in time to save the child from being drowned. Nash claims that his (hallucinatory) friend was watching the child. John's apparitions then confront him and the urge him to kill his wife. Nash finally realises these people are not "real" when he observes that the little girl never grows older. He then fully accepts that all three of them are, in fact, illusions.

Caught between having to choose the intellectual paralysis of the anti-psychotic drugs or the haunting of his apparitions, Nash and his wife decide to try to live with his schizophrenia. Nash begins to try to ignore his hallucinations and therefore not feed "his demons". The rest of the movie depicts Nash growing older while working on his studies in the library of Princeton University. He still suffers hallucinations and periodically has to check if new people he meets are real, but ultimately he develops the ability to live with and largely ignore his illusions. Eventually, Nash begins to teach at the university and is honored by his fellow professors for his lifetime achievement. Nash goes on to be awarded The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his revolutionary work on ecomomic theory.

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