Movies About Math (A π Day Celebration)

Happy Pi (π) Day everyone! As the child of a mathematics teacher, the number pi holds a very special place in my heart. Well, not really, but it sounds nice and a bit geeky!

Anywhoo, to commemorate the day I decided to compile a list of films that either deal directly with mathematics or it is handled prominently on the periphery. As I conducted research to build the list, I soon realized that I have not seen as many mathematically oriented films as I initially thought (and yes, this includes A Beautiful Mind).

good will huntng directed by gus van sant

As a result, I decided to take the following approach: I went over to the Wikipedia and “borrowed” their list and separated it into films that I have seen and the ones that I have yet to see. In the first list (seen) I have marked my recommendations with an asterisk (*). Note: Although included on the list, I took Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World off my list, because while the source material goes into some mathematic and scientific detail, the film does not really dig that deep into the subject.

What I Have Seen

  1. Enigma (2001) – Romantic, political and psychological intrigue set in Bletchley Park during the World War II. (*)
  2. Good Will Hunting (1997) – Mathematical genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon) begins to turn his downtrodden life around with the help of a psychologist and an MIT professor. (*)
  3. I.Q. (1994) – In this romantic comedy, Albert Einstein helps an auto mechanic pose as a physicist, all in an effort to capture the heart of Einstein’s niece. (*)
  4. Proof (2005) – The film based on the Broadway play about a father-daughter tandem of mathematical brilliance, mental illness and a disputed proof.
  5. Sneakers (1992) – A team of intellectual misfits is tasked with retrieving a code-breaking box developed by a rogue mathematician. (*)
  6. Stand and Deliver (1988) – True story of math teacher Jaime Escalante, who inspired the students in a school in an L.A. neighborhood. (*)
  7. Moneyball (2011) – This was my own addition, and not included on the original Wikipedia list. (*)

 

Films that Have Remained Unseen (for now):

  • 21 (2008)
  • 21 Grams (2003)
  • Agora (2009)
  • Antonia’s Line (1995)
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  • The Bank (2001)
  • Fermat’s Room (2007)
  • Infinity (1996)
  • An Invisible Sign (2011)
  • It’s My Turn (1980)
  • The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
  • The Oxford Murders (2008)
  • Pi (1998)
  • Raising Genius (2004)
  • Stranger than Fiction (2006)
  • Straw Dogs (1971)
  • A Summer’s Tale (1996)
  • Tall Story (1960)
  • Traveling Salesman (2012)

Let me know if I missed any!

Comments

  1. GREAT post idea. I would love to see an expanded post on teaching in general.
    Ja recently posted..I’m Finally Betting On Bradley But Don’t Count On Him Getting The NodMy Profile

  2. Also, of the unseen, I’d venture to say that Beautiful Mind is must-see.
    Ja recently posted..I’m Finally Betting On Bradley But Don’t Count On Him Getting The NodMy Profile

  3. For a more comprehensive list (exactly 100 titles at the moment), go to the Math Fiction website at http://kasmana.people.cofc.edu/MATHFICT/ and use the search page, selecting “Films” as the medium.

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