The American Experience: Season 14, Episode 14

A Brilliant Madness (28 Apr. 2002)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | History
8.0
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Title: A Brilliant Madness (28 Apr 2002)

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
John Nash ...
Himself (as John Forbes Nash)
...
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Felix Browder ...
Himself - Mathematician
Erhan Cinlar ...
Himself - Mathematician
Melvin Hausner ...
Himself - Mathematician (as Mel Hausner)
Harold Kuhn ...
Himself - Mathematician
Martha Nash Legg ...
Herself - Sister
Zipporah Levinson ...
Herself - Wife of Colleague
Sylvia Nasar ...
Herself - Author: 'A Beautiful Mind'
Alicia Nash ...
Herself
Donald Newman ...
Himself - Mathematician
Herta Newman ...
Herself - Wife of Colleague
Donald Reynolds ...
Himself - Friend
Paul Samuelson ...
Himself
Louis Sass ...
Himself - Clinical Psychologist
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28 April 2002 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Rich and human story behind A Beautiful Mind

A very good documentary, well-paced, balanced and focused on a interesting subject.

The film captures Nash's individuality, and opens a window into his thinking. I wouldn't say that his experience of schizophrenia is typical, but this is not a documentary on schizophrenia, rather it is a portrait of a man whose entire experience of life has been atypical. In this, A Brilliant Madness is a very solid piece of work, in its own right.

However, it is impossible not to view it in relation to Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind. While in some ways this is a bit distracting, it means the film plays out on another level: as a lesson in media manipulation and the power of stigma. Apparently, the makers of A Beautiful Mind felt people could only overcome their feelings about mental illness if the rest of the story was clean cut Americana. (Let's face it, the original ad campaign was meant to deceive people entirely, as to the focus of the film. I know this has been defended as "bringing the audience into Nash's reality", but suspect the motivation may have originated in marketing) A Brilliant Madness reveals much (but not all) of the true complexity of Nash's story, while making all the same anti-stigma points that A Beautiful Mind was lauded for.


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