In the 1910s, Srinivasa Ramanujan is a man of boundless intelligence that even the abject poverty of his home in Madras, India, cannot crush. Eventually, his stellar intelligence in mathematics and his boundless confidence in both attract the attention of the noted British mathematics professor, G.H. Hardy, who invites him to further develop his computations at Trinity College at Cambridge. Forced to leave his young wife, Janaki, behind, Ramanujan finds himself in a land where both his largely intuitive mathematical theories and his cultural values run headlong into both the stringent academic requirements of his school and mentor and the prejudiced realities of a Britain heading into World War One. Facing this with a family back home determined to keep him from his wife and his own declining health, Ramanujan joins with Hardy in a mutual struggle that would define Ramanujan as one of India's greatest modern scholars who broke more than one barrier in his worlds.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Throughout his life, Ramanujan was plagued by health problems. His health worsened in England. A 1994 analysis of Ramanujan's medical records and symptoms by Dr. D. A. B. Young concluded that it was much more likely he had hepatic amoebiasis, an illness then widespread in Madras, rather than tuberculosis. He had two episodes of dysentery before he left India. When not properly treated, dysentery can lie dormant for years and lead to hepatic amoebiasis. Amoebiasis was a treatable and often curable disease at the time. See more »
Cambridge was not bombed by Zeppelins in World War I. See more »
Don't you see? An equation has no meaning to me... unless it expresses a thought of God.
See more »
Card before the title: "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but supreme beauty." - Bertrand Russell See more »
The scientist-as-superhero movie genre is more than well-established by now and having seen A Beautiful Mind, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, I will readily admit it is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. That being said, the narrative of all these movies is basically the same, and The Man Who Knew Infinity doesn't rise above its genre or add anything new at any point. It fails to surprise, to bring wonder to the viewer or to inspire deep thoughts about the scientific subject. In the aforementioned movies, the main characters all struggle with a variety of challenges they have to overcome, and which ultimately grow into more important story lines than their scientific efforts themselves. The reason for that is probably that it's difficult to bring the story of the impact of theoretical science to a visual medium. I thought that A Beautiful Mind was ultimately most successful in visualizing the scientific impact of what the mathematician John Nash came up with. The Man Who Knew Infinity doesn't have a similarly powerful (but admittedly crude) metaphor as a Beautiful Mind does and therefore fails to bridge the gap between Ramanujan's work and the average (lay man) viewer. The result is an average movie about an exceptional man. It's fine if you're looking for a feel-good story in a somewhat-more-intelligent wrapper than your average rom-com or comic-book superhero movie, but don't expect anything particularly impressive.
One afterthought: the reference made to Newton inventing gravity is a very basic but unforgivable faux-pas. Newton discovered gravity but he never invented it. After all, one cannot invent something that is already in existence. For a movie with a science theme that is a painful mistake, especially given the fact that several mathematicians were involved as consultants. Knowing the difference between invention and discovery is what they teach you in introduction epistemology. Since having a decent idea of how knowledge is gathered and how the scientific process works is a must for any self-respecting scientist, I cannot help but wonder who the movie's scientist-consultants were.
10 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this