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The Oxford Murders (2008)

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At Oxford University, a professor and a grad student work together to try to stop a potential series of murders seemingly linked by mathematical symbols.

Director:

Álex de la Iglesia (as Alex de la Iglesia)

Writers:

Álex de la Iglesia (screenplay) (as Alex de la Iglesia), Jorge Guerricaechevarría (screenplay) (as Jorge Guerricachevarria) | 1 more credit »
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6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Elijah Wood ... Martin
John Hurt ... Arthur Seldom
Leonor Watling ... Lorna
Julie Cox ... Beth
Jim Carter ... Inspector Petersen
Alex Cox ... Kalman
Burn Gorman ... Yuri Podorov
Dominique Pinon ... Frank
Anna Massey ... Mrs. Eagleton
Danny Sapani ... Scott
Alan David Alan David ... Mr. Higgins
Tim Wallers ... Defense Lawyer
James Weber Brown ... Doctor
Ian East Ian East ... Howard Green
Charlotte Asprey ... Howard Green's Wife
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Storyline

Martin, a PhD student in mathematics, enrolls at Oxford in the hope of meeting his mentor, Professor Seldom. The young man manages to find lodging at Mrs. Eagleton's but in this house a stifling atmosphere prevails due to the landlady's attitude. Indeed Mrs. Eagleton, who happens to be a friend of Seldom's, is a haughty and unsympathetic woman who also stifles her daughter Beth. At the university, things do not fare much better as Martin is put in his place by his idol during one of Seldom's lectures. But his private life changes for the best as he starts an affair with Lorna, a beautiful girl he met during a game of squash. One night Seldom and Martin who find themselves at Mrs. Eagletons's discover her dead body. They are interrogated by the police. Soon afterwards they decide to lead their own private investigation... Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexual content/nudity and some violence/disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Spain | UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 July 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los crímenes de Oxford See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 117012 delivered on 20-2-2008. See more »

Goofs

(at around 20 mins) During the camera panning, when Martin is riding his bike and parks it by the fence and passes the tree, the camera cues anew. Martin's arm nearest the camera after he exits the tree does not match the way it was positioned when he entered behind the tree. See more »

Quotes

Arthur Seldom: Since man is incapable of reconciling mind and matter, he tends to confer some sort of entity on ideas because he cannot bear the notion that the purely abstract only exists in our brain. "The beauty and harmony of a snowflake" - how sweet. "The butterfly that flutters his wings and causes a hurricane on the other side of the world" - we've been hearing about that damn butterfly for decades, but who has been able to predict a single hurricane? Nobody! Tell me something. Where is the beauty and ...
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Crazy Credits

The background to the credits sequence is a representation of a blackboard full of equations and mathematical formulae. See more »

Connections

References V for Vendetta (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Frère Jacques
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by the children in the bus
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User Reviews

 
Clue 2: The Post-Grad Version.
1 November 2008 | by Anonymous_MaxineSee all my reviews

The Oxford Murders is one of a very rare type of movie, I'm not even sure what you would call it. Intellectual Thriller, or maybe Nerd Mystery. Whatever the category, it's one of those thrillers where the leads are so intelligent and inquisitive that they often fly into uncontrollable excitement because of some new bit of mathematical code that just popped into their minds.

It starts out with a great hook – a professor is telling a story to his class about a man who, in the midst of a heated battle, sat down amidst all of the gunfire around him and wrote feverishly in his notebook, because he absolutely had to write down what was in his mind at that very moment. What was so important that he would risk his life?

Much of the first part of the movie is a philosophical discourse which asks us generic existential clichés like Can we know the truth? And how do we really know anything? Elijah Wood stars as Martin, a young American so eager to achieve the answers to these questions that he travels to England with the sole purpose of picking the brain of a Professor Seldom (whose name sounds like it belongs in a Harry Potter story), the man who was giving the lecture at the beginning of the movie.

You see, Martin believes that if we uncover the secret meaning of numbers, we'll know the secret meaning of reality. I'm going to just come right out and say that the movie pretty much lost me at this point. I'm not sure how the meaning of numbers is connected to the meaning of reality, or if the meaning of reality means the meaning of life or just the true nature of our surroundings, and most importantly, I didn't know there was a secret meaning of numbers. In fact, until I saw this movie, I thought that mathematics was a universal language. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention in my college philosophy classes.

Regardless, questions like these soon become of the utmost importance, as a series of murders begin happening that seem to be driven by an intellectual motive. At this point you'll notice that every character's behavior and background is designed to make them a suspect, and the movie literally turns into a game of Clue. During their investigations, Seldom and Martin actually discuss the similarities to Clue and how best to solve the mystery using that format.

To muddle things even further, the movie uses philosophy to stretch reasonable doubt to the absolute extreme. Seldom explains to Martin in dramatically hushed language that no matter how certain and clear and obvious the evidence, we can never be ABSOLUTELY certain who the killer is.

This is the kind of nihilism that leads to the logical conclusion that we should just open all of the prisons and let everyone run free, and maybe even dismantle the entire legal system because, following that logic, it clearly serves no purpose.

But one thing I did love about the movie is how Martin shows up from America, this gigantic math geek if ever there was one, and immediately makes friends with two beautiful girls who immediately fall in love with him. I hate it when that happens! One of them, who he met while playing racquetball, is so stunningly beautiful that it makes no sense when she falls for this guy. She makes Elijah Wood look like a little kid!

I think there's a good sex scene in the movie where you can see her naked, but I missed almost the entire thing because I fainted when she took her shirt off.

There is a complicated and unnecessary back story late in the film about a past student of Seldom's who drove himself insane with his strenuous efforts to answer some of the some of the questions of the universe until he ended up helpless on a hospital bed because his body couldn't keep up with his mind. He loses his legs and his mobility and his sanity and then can't even do better than a hospital that has so little respect for its patients that they would leave a legless man lying naked on his stomach for all to see. Nice.

But in the movie's defense, despite all of the mumbo jumbo throughout the film, the climax is actually pretty good. You may feel completely lost for a good part of the running time unless you have a little background in mathematics and philosophy yourself (I don't).

But unfortunately, they still can't resist handing us a nicely packaged philosophical sound bite to wrap everything up at the end, which creates a little problem. The mystery in the movie has been allowed to solve itself, and to do so in a pretty impressive way, but then they give us an entirely different solution through dialogue – a crazy solution.

I'm willing to bet that this story looked great on paper, but on the screen there is a little too much nonsense to deal with and FAR too much high-brow intellectualism. It's safe to assume that a large portion of the audience will feel pretty alienated. I personally have a tough time relating to characters that get uncontrollably excited about things like historical philosophy and math theory, and an entire movie based on things like this is even more of a challenge.

On the other hand, in a time when our movies are overflowing with stupidity, we should cherish the ones that really try to give us something to think about. But personally I prefer the ones that are just a little more accessible…


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