The best films about mathematicians

Usually people of action look at us from big screens: adventurers, policemen, military men, successful businessmen.

It is hard to imagine that directors and producers were seriously interested in singing the praises of theoretical mathematicians, making them the main characters in their films. However, such directors exist, and some of them were even awarded the highest film award. Consider 10 interesting films about mathematics and mathematician geniuses.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

The Man Who Knows Infinity (2015)

Biographical drama from the UK. The screenplay is based on the novel of the same name by Robert Kanigel. This is a story about an Indian simple guy, without proper education, but with a talent for mathematics. The plot immerses the viewer in India at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the small town of Madras, laborer Srinivasa Ramanujan barely makes ends meet. But one day he attracted the attention of his superiors with his mathematical talent.

Since that moment, not a single complex accounting calculation has passed without Srinivas. Colleagues with higher education notice that in mathematics he is head and shoulders above them. Heeding advice, he writes letters to various universities. One of them ends up with G. Hardy, a professor at Cambridge University, who decided to answer it. Thus begins a film about an Indian mathematician.

Original title:
The Man Who Knew Infinity

Starring :
Jeremy Irons, Dev Patel, Malcolm Sinclair

Country:
UK, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.2

Age limit:
12+

X plus Y (2014)

The next film is also British. There is an amorous denouement in it, nevertheless, it can claim the title of a film about mathematics for schoolchildren. The main character is an autistic boy who can only keep up a conversation about mathematics, with the help of which he understands the world.

One day, the young genius becomes aware that there are competitions in his favorite science and you can receive awards for winning, like in sports. The young man decides to try his hand at the International Mathematical Olympiad, where the leadership is usually held by the Chinese. During preparation, the hero falls in love with a girl who will be the impetus for a change in his personality.

Original title:
X+Y

Cast:
Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.1

Age limit:
18+

Pi (1998)

Interesting in its own way the film “Pi”. This is the film debut of American director Darren Aranofsky about the genius of mathematics. The film was low-budget and shot in black and white, but received a critical response.

Max, the main character of the picture, is trying to unravel the absolute code to change the stock price on the stock exchange. During his research, he stumbles upon a secret community of Jews whose goal is to find the mathematical system of the Torah. And the main character succeeds. He finds the treasured number of 216 digits, which is a symbol of the universe.

Original title:
Pi

Cast:
Sean Gullet, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.4

Age limit:
16+

Mind Games (2001)

The film won four Oscars in 2001. If you resort to familiarity, it can be described as a film about a schizophrenic mathematician who won the Nobel Prize. It artistically presents the life story of a real scientist, not devoid of drama. Or in another way – the life of a genius, his love and true friendship.

The protagonist, mathematician John Nash, is a genius and workaholic. From diligence in work and stress in the service, he develops schizophrenia. After some time, he realizes his illness and continues further scientific activity. As a result, the scientist receives the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Original title:
A Beautiful Mind

Cast:
Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.6, IMDb – 8.2

Age limit:
12+

The Imitation Game (2014)

A film that tells the story of the genius of mathematics, based on real events. It takes the viewer into the tense atmosphere of World War II. The main character, mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing, with a team of scientists, must complete the most difficult task for the army – to decipher the code of the Nazi cipher machine.

The term is a day, because the code changes daily. There are over 159 million combinations, and the net search time is only 20 minutes. Turing is sure that a person is not able to try all the options so quickly, and created another machine that, using a mathematical algorithm, should break the cipher.

Original title:
The Imitation Game

Cast:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode

Country:
UK, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
16+

Trap Farm (2007)

The list is complemented by a puzzle movie. In it, four mathematicians are sent to a secret competition. Performing tasks, scientists get into the house, where they are closed by the owner, who introduced himself as the Farm. And to get out alive, they need to solve difficult puzzles.

Original title:
La habitación de Fermat

Cast:
Alejo Sauras, Elena Ballesteros, Lewis Omar

Country:
Spain

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.7

Age limit:
16+

Twenty One (2008)

In history, there are cases when bright mathematical minds used their abilities for the sake of quick profit. The movie “Twenty-One” is about a professor who recruits talented students to break the bank of a blackjack casino.

To pull off a scam, the teacher uses probability theory. But before they get into the team, newcomers pass tests, for example, they solve the Monty Hall paradox. The story has a real background. Six MIT students actually bankrupted a Las Vegas casino for several million dollars.

Original title:
21

Starring :
Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 6.8

Age limit:
16+

The Man Who Changed Everything (2011)

The film tells about the birth of the method of statistical analysis in the selection of players for the baseball team. Brad Pitt as the unfortunate manager of the poorest Oakland Athletics club meets a fat Yale graduate economist who pulls his club from the bottom to the favorites.

He succeeds in this with the help of the mentioned method of statistical analysis in the selection of players. While the managers of the favorite teams are fighting for star players, the characters of the film are digging up “diamonds” on the benches of spares.

Original title:
Moneyball

Starring :
Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.6

Age limit:
16+

Gifted (2017)

It would be a great injustice not to put the relatively new picture Gifted on the list of films about mathematicians. The story tells about the good fatherly relationship of a man who had no family before.

Frank takes the daughter of his dead sister to him. The girl is unusual – she is a child prodigy. The native grandmother, having learned about the abilities of her granddaughter, is trying to take her away from Frank through the court for the sake of ambitious plans – to raise a successful scientist. A film about a girl of a genius in mathematics touches the strings of the hearts of even the most callous viewers.

Original title:
Gifted

Cast:
Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsey Duncan

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 7.6

Age limit:
12+

Proof (2004)

Complete the list should be the film “Proof” about Katherine, the daughter of a mathematics professor, who inherited her father’s abilities. When her father dies, she finds solace in his graduate student. Before his death, the father began to go out of his mind, filling notebooks with imaginary “evidence”, and now the daughter needs to complete what she started.

Original title:
Proof

Cast:
Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.7

Age limit:
16+

Do you know other films about mathematics? Tell us about them in the comments!

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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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