To some mathematics is a boring academic subject that they quickly forget about when they leave school. But the truth is that mathematics never leaves us, and it plays a massive part in our everyday lives. It is true that many students struggle with mathematics but for those that persevere it can be a thing to love and a source of inspiration. The following films are based on true events and real life documentaries of some of the most gifted mathematicians that have ever lived.
Good Will Hunting
This massive box office hit starred Robin Williams, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It is the story of a young man that had dropped out of life and was working as a janitor at M.I.T. What nobody knew about the youngster that was sweeping the floors and cleaning the lavatories was that he was very gifted at mathematics. In fact he was quite brilliant, it was almost natural for him to critically asses a math problem and find a solution. The brilliance of the film is that Matt Damon who plays the talented but wayward youngster is quite unpleasant and hard to like. And his rise to fame is not automatically applauded by the audience.
The Imitation Game
The true but tragic story of Alan Turing who was one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his time. The story is a factual account of how one man literally changed history and saved thousands of lives doing so. Set in WWII, the British and American forces were trying to decode a Nazi machine called Enigma. This machine enabled the Nazis to communicate vital information to their U-Boats where they could sink allied cargo ships that brought vital supplies across the Atlantic.
Turing gathered together a team of chess players, crossword wizards and other motley creative minds and set out to break the code. In the process they built a device which was the first ever computer, and managed to solve the horrendously complicated code. The tragic part of all this was that Turing was a homosexual, which was illegal in Britain in 1952. The hero of WWII who saved so many lives at sea was convicted for gross indecency and lived the rest of his life in disgrace.
A Beautiful Mind
One of the greatest films ever about mathematics. A Beautiful Mind is the life story of John Nash, who secretly accepts assignments in cryptography. This film is a totally addictive viewing because the audience sees the gradual decline in the sanity of this great man. Working at Princeton University he is revered as one of their best mathematicians, but Nash hardly goes to class and cuts himself off socially.
Nash is trying to discover his original idea, which he stumbled upon in a bar. The ground breaking idea was so brilliant and complicated that Nash could not remember it, and he then embarks on a massive struggle to find it again. In the years that follow Nash eventually loses his mind in utter confusion. There is a twist at the end of this film that is well worth seeing as Nash does finally triumph over his struggle.