My Math Movie Picks
Actually, these Math Movie Picks
aren't really picks, just movies I've come across that
in some form involve math, math teachers, mathematicians, etc.
Let me know if there are any I've missed! I haven't had
a chance to preview the ones marked with an asterisk,
so I make no guarantees about their offensiveness (of course,
I make no guarantees about any of them except that
there is some sort of math connection). Moreover, in
some instances I excluded a movie with a math connection,
if the connection was sufficiently weak, but some of those listed
below still may have pretty tenuous connections to mathematics.
In each case I give a blurb highlighting the connection to mathematics
(such as it may be) and a link to a database entry for the film.
Of the two databases linked to,
has better movie descriptions but
E Online has more movies/videos in its database. Yet another movie database can be found
here. Also, here
is another math-movies site that may be of interest.
A movie in which factoring numbers
and Cartesian coordinates figure.
(This movie was pointed out to me by
Chris Kabes and Alina Harbourne.)
*Little Man Tate (1991)
Jodie Foster movie concerning her character's
son, who proves to be a math genius.
(This movie was pointed out to me by
*The Bank (2001)
It┤s about a mathematician who works at a big and
powerful bank. He develops software which uses Chaos
Theory to predict stock market behaviour.
Beautiful digital plots of predictions, with complex
integrals involved (most of them well used...).
(This was contributed by Niels Hernandez. Here is a link
to the movie web site:
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Biographical movie about John Nash, who
did some wide ranging work in mathematics, and
battled schizophrenia but won a Nobel
prize in economics.
The mathematical consultant, Dave Bayer, appears
in the movie in the penning scene. He was also
the one who wrote down much of the math seen in the movie,
and was the hand double in some of the scenes where
you see Nash writing. The DVD includes an interview
with Nash himself, and shows part of the ceremony
awarding him the Noble prize.
Stars Matthew Broderick, Patricia Arquette.
A biopic on Richard Feynman, Nobel prize winning physicist
and inventor of certain path integrals well studied in mathematics
but not well defined.
*A Hill on the Dark Side of the Moon (1983)
About mathematician Sonia Kovalevskaya (for whom the Russians named a mountain
on the far side of the moon).
*Morte di un Matematico Napoletano (Italian, 1992)
Director Mario Martone. The story (as best as I can tell) of an important
Italian mathematician (Renato Caccioppoli) reminiscing
in the last week of his life, before committing suicide.
*N Is a Number (1993)
Diector George Paul 'Duke' Csicsery.
A 57 minute documentary about Paul Erdos,
a peripatetic mathematician with innumerable publications,
after whom Erdos numbers are named.
*Evariste Galois (1965)
Director Alexandre Astruc.
A movie about math phenom Evariste Galois, who died young in a duel.
*Non ho tempo (1973: No More Time)
An Italian film, directed by Ansano
Giannarelli, released in 1973; it's a biopic of Evariste Galois,
focusing especially on his political engagement. It's shot both in
black/white and color and it's made in a quite experimental directorial
style. You may find basic datas about it on IMDb.com or
www.cinematografo.it (in Italian). Contributed by
In the Navy (1941)
Abbott and Costello. Near the end of the movie, Costello, a cook in
the ship's galley, tells Abbott he can't have any of
the 28 doughnuts he's made, because he needs all 28 to give 13 officers
7 doughnuts each. Abbott is doubtful, so Costello gives several proofs
(at a blackboard) that 7x13=28. An amusing lesson in the importance of place value.
Marilyn Monroe on her hands and knees explains the
theory of relativity to Albert Einstein.
1985. Directed by Nicholas Roeg. Cast: Michael Emil, Theresa Russell, Tony
Curtis, Gary Busey, Will Sampson,...
(*OK, relativity is physics, maybe shouldn't be counted with math.... *)
[Contributed by David Fowler.]
*Una Pura formalitÓ. (1994)
with Roman Polanski, and GÚrard Depardieu.
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Depardieu is a murder suspect being
interrogated by the village police. After they bash his face against a desk
a few times, they show him a picture of his high school geometry teacher.
Depardieu gives a lovely reminiscence of the professor's description of two
parallel lines stretching out to meet at an ideal infinite point.
[Contributed by David Fowler.]
Good Will Hunting
Fields medalist fights therapist for young man's soul.
Mathematician fights for life and wife.
Math grad student fights for love.
It's my turn
Group theorist fights attraction for ball-player.
Stand and Deliver
Math teacher fights social conditioning in barrio.
Mathematician fights dinosaurs.
Mathematician fights for dinosaurs.
Number theorist fights for his chip.
The Phantom Tollbooth
Numbers fight letters in cartoon universe.
Not much fighting but some algebraic topology.
Children's movie; a plot point involves Matilda multiplying large numbers
in her head.
*The Shy and The Naked
A student film about a mathematician who is attracted
to an artist.
High school geometry and women's basketball.
*The Constant Factor
Amateur mathematician fights communist system.
*The Devil's Wanton
Former math teacher gets out of asylum.
*She Wrote the Book
Conservative midwestern university mathematician
and her zany amnesiac New York City adventure.
*The Mirror Has Two Faces
Jeff Bridges teaches math and "longs for a sexless union that will not distract him from his work"; Barbra Streisand is the "ugly duckling".
Breaking the Code
An exploration of Alan Turing. (Contributed by R. Rebarber.)
A movie whose main character is a deranged mathematician.
(Contributed by R. Rebarber.)
Donald [Duck that is] in Mathmagic Land
Mathemagical cartoon duckumentary.
(Contributed by J. Walker.)
Samuel L. Jackson's character is a mathematician.E Online
A film about a mathematics Ph.D. (Frank Whaley) who,
rather unbelievably, turns down an offer from Princeton to be a handyman on
Blythe Danner's farm and ends up murdering her daughter (Sheryl Lee), a TV
star. His lawyer is played by Bruce Davison--the best actor in the film.
It's worth seeing--far better than, say, "It's My Turn". (Contributed by W. E. Lang.)
*Anything by Paul Verhoeven
The connection here (which is pretty tenuous) is Verhoeven's phd in mathematics (thanks to W. E. Lang
for this information).
E Online Biography
Mr. ShowBiz Bio
Facts in French
STARSHIP TROOPERS, 1997
BASIC INSTINCT, 1992
TOTAL RECALL, 1990
FLESH + BLOOD, 1985
FOURTH MAN, THE, 1979
SOLDIER OF ORANGE, 1977
- *Beginning Math
- Cartoon on basic math skills for children ages 3-8.
- *Fun Learning - Primary Math
- Animation for ages 3-8 on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- *Get Ready for School - Get Ready for Math
- Skill building activities in math.E Online
- *Math - Add Venture of the Time Taxi
- Professor Mindbender teaches concepts of time, money and linear measurement for children ages 5-8.E Online
- *Math - Close Encounters of the Math Kind
- Professor Mindbender teaches fractions, multiplication, division, and probability for children ages 7-10.E Online
- *Mathnet - The Case of the Unnatural (1994)
- Dragnet takeoff works in some math.E Online
- *Mathnet - Treasure in Monterey Bay (1994)
- Dragnet takeoff works in some math; another episode.E Online
- *Music Video Flash Cards: Math Addition (1995)
- Flash-card addition problems in a music video format for kids.E Online
It might be of interest to track other occurrences of math or
mathematicians in popular culture (books, TV, etc.). For example,
on some episode of Star Trek TNG, Picard discusses Fermat's Last Theorem,
but I no longer remember which episode. I've also just learned
from a visitor to this site that the TV series "La Femme Nikitta"
has an episode titled "Fuzzy Logic" where a young and rebel
mathematician is drafted into the organization.
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