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As a young boy, Richard was fascinated with science and objects in motion. This wonderment was reinforced through the efforts of his father. The only thing that mattered as much as science, and his family, was Arline, whom he met when they were both in school. But fate can often be cruel and Arline is found to be stricken by Tuberculosis. Undaunted, Richard studies the disease as he studies science in hopes of curing her. When her disease is in remission, they marry and he proceeds on to college where his studies and the war lead him to Los Alamos to work on the Manhattan Project. While Richard is intrigued with the solution to the project, he is also concerned with the outcome and saddened with the failing health of Arline. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
The gate scene at Los Alamos is accurate and Richard had many more pranks that he pulled while working there. Most notably he picked locks. The one unique combination of locks was a series of file cabinets in a mathematicians office where the combinations began with the first few digits of the natural logarithm of e. See more »
Mathematics is a language. It's very difficult. It's subtle. You couldn't say those things any other way - and I can talk to dead people with it. I talk to Copernicus every day.
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A gem of a small movie, told with gentleness and feeling
A caution: this review reveals details of the movie.
The movie "Infinity", stars Matthew Broderick who portrays the Nobel-prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. Broderick also co-produced and directed the movie. Keeping it in the family, the screenplay was written by Matthew's mother, Patricia Broderick. The other major role, that of Feynman's first wife Arline Greenbaum, was played by Patricia Arquette.
Infinity is not a documentary about a phase in the life of Feynman the scientist, my expectation. My first impression as the movie unfolded was disappointment. I have been intrigued by Feynman the physicist and scientist since I purchased his Quantum Mechanics lectures trilogy in 1968. As the movie progressed, I saw that it isn't a movie about science; it is a movie about the heart. The point of this movie is to portray Feynman the person, and his relationship to the love of his life, Arline Greenbaum; in this it succeeds wonderfully.
A few years back, while reading one of Feynman's books, I ran across a passage which made a big impression. Feynman wrote that his children, who were raised in private schools and visited home only during holidays, were known well enough to him that if he were to meet one on the street, he would probably recognize that person as his child. That statement helped convince me to move from academia to the business world, making becoming a better father and husband my top priority. After seeing this movie, I better understand Feynman the person. The tragic loss of his first wife probably produced a life-long desire to hold personal relationships at a distance, and to make research and teaching his top priorities.
Broderick does an impressive job of directing the film. Just one example: at the moment of the death of his wife, my expectation was for there to be intrusive weepy violins. Instead, the moment moved through silence, making a more powerful statement. That scene reminded me of George Burns pulling down his shoe box of old photos from the top shelf of his closet, and looking at them quietly in "Going in Style", a scene which packed an emotional punch without resorting to violins.
There is another dimension to the two Brodericks' intelligence which surprised me: they did not botch the physics, what little there was. Nearly every Hollywood movie which has an opportunity to do so, gets the science wrong... having space ships produce impressive sounds as they move through the vacuum of space, for example. Matthew Braderick as Feynman explains beta decay to his wife using olives from his lunch in an approach worthy of the real Feynman. Also, Feyman's father explanation of inertia, in which he differentiated between being able to name it and describe it, which he could do, and understanding the "why" of it, which no one could do, was a "deep" understanding of science which Broderick portrayed with sympathy and understanding. By staying away from complex mathematics and the physics that could have been incorporated into this story, to the delight of the geeks of the world, Broderick created a movie that is accessible to all.
"Infinity" is a gem of a small movie, a love story, a true story, told with gentleness and feeling; a movie which does not overreach itself. I strongly recommend it.
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