Category Archive for: ‘Michael Ferguson’

The Man Who Knew Infinity — Film Review

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Directed by Matthew Brown

 

This is a beautifully made, touching film about the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the more naturally gifted mathematicians of the twentieth century.  He was untrained.  Worked by intuition.  He had an extraordinary ability to make mental calculations.  He simply wrote down the mathematical formulas as he visualized them in his mind, sure of their correctness.  Of course, other mathematicians were not so sure and demanded proofs, which he found tedious and a waste of time.  However, at Cambridge, among G.H. Hardy, J.E. Littlewood, Bertrand Russell, and others, he learned, and was able to produce some impressive proofs of thorny mathematical problems that had seemed intractable.  He died at an unfortunately young age (32) from tuberculosis.

The film takes a very personal look at him and his relationships with his family in India, his wife (played by the captivating Devika Bhise), and the British mathematicians at Cambridge.  From his early struggles to gain recognition for his work in India, his momentous venture moving to England, separating from his new wife and family, to join a powerhouse of British mathematicians at Cambridge, to the culture clash he felt upon arriving in England, he faced obstacles, opposition, and disappointments.  He encountered resistance, prejudice, and violence in England, jealousy from colleagues, as well as loneliness.  His road was one of struggle and ultimate triumph, albeit cut short by the onset of terminal tuberculosis.  In some respects it is a tragic story and deeply sad, but in others it is a monument to the strength and vitality and will to triumph within the human spirit.  It is very moving, visually very satisfying.  An outstanding achievement.

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