A Beautiful Mind is a book and film about the Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash and his experiences of schizophrenia. The biography, written by Sylvia Nasar, was published in 1999. The movie, loosely based around the biography of the same name, was released in 2001.

Table of contents
1 Nasar's biography
2 The film
3 External links and references

Nasar's biography

The book A Beautiful Mind is a detailed biography of John Nash, including his work as a mathematician and his private life. The book won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, as well as making the New York Times bestseller list.

The film

The film version of A Beautiful Mind was created by Universal Pictures and DreamWorks. In 2002, the film was awarded four Oscars for:

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.

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 rewriting of his actual psychotic experience (eg. being "attacked by Napoleon" or being "the left foot of God") into a more exciting but fictionalised account. 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

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

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 lead 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 antipsychotic medication. However, these drugs create terrible side-effects on his personality, his relationship with his wife and, most dramatically, his intellect. Frustrated, Nash ceases his medication, triggering a relapse of his psychosis. 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 urge him to kill his wife. Nash finally realizes 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, part of his psychosis.

Caught between having to choose the intellectual paralysis of the antipsychotic 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 psychosis. 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 Nobel Prize for Economics for his revolutionary work on game theory.

See Also: List of movies - List of actors - List of directors - List of documentaries - List of Hollywood movie studios

External links and references