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Chantal Mikolyski

Rhetoric 1010
Movie analysis
November 25, 2016

Downside of Genius
If you dig into it, youll always find something bizarre about the people who win the
Nobel Prizes (news, ABC). Although not all geniuss have mental problems, there seems to be a
correlation between those who develop mental disorders and those who are truly brilliant. The
movie, A Beautiful Mind is trying to teach the viewer something about the brain and how
works in certain situations. There is a connection between genius and mental health/disorders.
Being too intelligent can close your eyes to other parts of life, especially if its taking over your
reality. Being a genius doesnt mean you have the secret to the universe; in fact, such intelligence
has the ability to bring a life to ruin. John Nash is a great example of this kind of life.
The movie, A Beautiful Mind, is a true story about a well known man named John
Nash. He goes to Princeton University. John is an awkward person who doesnt get along with
others very well. He has obvious social problems along with extreme genius. John spends a lot of
time coming up with his original idea known as the equilibrium theory, which ends up being a
mathematical breakthrough in history. During his time at Princeton, he has a roommate named
Charles that he is quite close with. He ends up meeting his roommates niece, who also becomes
good friends with him. Charles encourages John throughout the entire experience finding his
original idea. After his time at Princeton, he accepts a job at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and also gets a side job working for the government. John meets one of his students,
eventually falling in love and getting married to her. While this is happening, John continues
with a new, top secret job for theCIA, which is top secret and makes him incredibly paranoid.

He spends most of his time looking through current newspapers and articles trying to decode
secret Russian communications. Soon, Johns wife, Alicia, finds out about Johns work with the
government because he flips out on her one night, telling her to pack her things because they
need to leave. Johns paranoia becomes way too obvious, so Alicia put him in a mental hospital
to find out what was wrong with him. After a bit of time, the doctors reveal to Alicia that John
has schizophrenia.
It takes John a long time to accept the fact that his problems are actually there. He learns
that his old roommate, Charles, Charles niece, and the man who got him involved with the CIA
were all hallucinations. He also learns that all of his government work were delusions arising
from his paranoid schizophrenia. John is eventually released from the mental hospital and is
expected to take medicine which should help him with his schizophrenia. The medicine does
help with that part of his brain, but at the same time, it changes him in all the worst ways. Alicia,
his wife, was pregnant and had a baby during this time. Because of Johns issues, he wasn't able
to father his new child. Johns life was a complete disaster at this point. He didnt want to have
sex with his wife, he couldnt focus anymore, and he lost almost all of his genius. In short, he
lost who he once was. For example, He would randomly stare into space all the time, He was
unable to do things without supervision, and He almost accidentally killed his own child in the
bath tub. John even tried to stop taking his medicine so he could go back to who he once was for
himself and for his family. Sadly, it didnt go well at all and his life was still a disaster. All of his
delusions and paranoia just came back while his wife still supported him, took care of him, and
still loved him after all of it. John changes his recovery plan and decides to go back to Princeton,
spending his time there, trying to reconnect with his past. At this point, he isnt on meds
anymore. This works really well, so John just copes with his hallucinations for the rest of his life

and even starts teaching again. In 1997, John wins the nobel prize for his equilibrium theory and
he gives a nobel lecture to go with it (A Beautiful Mind).
This film was a true story based on a biography written by Sylvia Nasar. One of the
biggest differences with the movie and the true story is the entire situation with Johns wife,
Alicia. In the movie, John met his wife and fell in love with her with a romantic and adorable
story. They got married looking for a happily ever after; they also had a child together. Alicia
takes care of him like a loving wife would do and they stay married and grow old together (A
Beautiful Mind). She is the one who is there to help him throughout his journey through mental
illness and he just gets to watch what the life he is missing out on. This is not what really
happened at all though. According to the biography, John had a son before he got married to
Alicia and refused to have anything to do with him for a long time (News, ABC). He did get
married to Alicia and had a child with her but she divorced him because his mental illness drove
them apart (Mitchell). An example of that is, while they are still married, John moved into another
room and refused to have sex with her for more than 2 years (Suellentrop). After the divorce,
Alicia did let John move back in but only because she knew he needed someone to take care of
him (Mitchell). They were not in a romantic relationship anymore; in fact, she hooked up with
another mathematician during that time, but she still saw John as a friend and didnt want him to
be homeless (Mitchell). After John won the Nobel prize, him and Alicia got back together until
they died (Suellentrop). The rhetorical purpose of this huge change was because the movie
wanted to make Johns life look like a fantasy that he just couldnt get a grasp on. His life could
have been so perfect but because of the fact that he had schizophrenia, his entire reality was
diminished and the life that he couldnt have was just barely out of reach. The movies theme of
his connection between his genius and his mental disorder made this change to make it more

obvious of what his genius costed him, and that his eyes were closed during the most important
parts of a person's life. For these reasons, this change was a huge contribution to the theme of the
film A Beautiful Mind.
Another contributing change to the movies theme was Johns actual hallucinations and
delusions. The movie showed Johns hallucinations as 3 people who he knew and interacted
with. He had a delusion of secretly working for the CIA to decode newspapers to find Russian
communications (A Beautiful Mind). According to real schizophrenia experts, seeing real life
people is not a realistic thing for patients suffering from schizophrenia and according to Johns
biography, his hallucinations werent so visual ( Staff). He experienced voices
mocking him and arguing with him that he claimed were either aliens, or angels. He even
thought that God gave him a mission to find the mystical number that would prove Gods
existence (Mitchell). Now, why would the writers of the movie make this change? Its pretty
simple, if the movie showed all of this stuff, the movie would turn into a horror story. That kind
of stuff is scary and demented. The movie is called a beautiful mind, not A Sinister Mind. So
they had to make it more fluffy to make sure it would be appropriate for all ages to realize that
even having a truly beautiful/bright mind doesnt make your life perfect. The happiness of the
fluff makes the movie more inspirational while getting the point across. This also contributes to
the theme because the delusions that John had working for the government, decoding
newspapers, were completely connected to his talent of code breaking. This is a direct
connection from his genius to his delusions. The hallucinations were people and they had a
purpose in the movie. Parcher played as the one who brought him into the work with the
government. Charles, his roommates purpose was to move along the plot but he was also used as
someone who gave him praise, encouragement, and advice. The fact that he wasnt real was an

eye opener to John, realizing he never really had anyone in his life who could be a real friend and
positive part of his life at Princeton. Charles niece was also just a more interesting part of the
plot. She played the role of being a little friend of Johns who he never actually had due to his
awkwardness with people.
One more change that was made had to do with Johns life after he got back from the
mental institution. In the movie, after he got back from the mental institution, he went home. He
was sitting outside on the porch and was trying to solve an equation on a sheet of paper like he
used to all the time (A Beautiful Mind). because of the new medication that the doctors
prescribed to him, John couldn't focus or use his intelligence like he used to. The biography says
that right when he got home from the mental institution, John went to europe and wandered
around there for about 3 months telling people he was a refugee (Mitchell). Eventually his wife
got in contact with the state department and deported him back to the United States (Mitchell).
This change seemed to be made, first of all, because there wasnt enough time to add more
scenes into the movie but I also think the change was made because the movie needed to show
the first transition of how Johns medication affects his brain. This is an important part of the
theme because this is showing how his schizophrenia changes who he is. His own brain disables
his logic that he uses for solving problems. Therefore, they are connected and now who he is and
his life is completely scrambled showing that even his intellect cant help him anymore.
The theme of this movie was even shown through the movies formal techniques. The
acting for example was a huge one. The way that Alicia screams and breaks the glass in the
bathroom was very dramatic and effective at showing how Johns mental disorder was messing
up his love life (A Beautiful mind). Another formal technique that was used was the simple
dialogue, which often goes unnoticed. Doctor Rosen, one of the doctors at the mental institute,

says, You cant reason your way out of this! John then asks, Why not? Why cant I? Doctor
Rosen responds with, Because your mind is where the problem is in the first place! (A
Beautiful Mind). This is one of the biggest contributions to the theme yet. The doctor is
explaining to John that his brain, which is super genius, is where the entire problem started in the
first place. Just the fact that he is at a mental hospital while having this conversation is more
proof that John is there because of his intelligence.
All of this evidence contributes to what the main theme of the story is. There was so
much thought put into all of these different things and none of it was on accident. It all concludes
to the fact that being brilliant doesnt always mean you will have a perfect life. Downsides, small
or big, are always possible. I could even go as far as to say that someones intelligence could
destroy their life. Having brain smarts has so many perks, but being smart isnt the most
important thing out there. There will always be a part of life that is missing if youre thinking
like that. A Beautiful Mind is a great story, showing the example of John Nashs life; the nobel
prize winner of 1994 and a genius of Princeton University.

Works Cited
Suellentrop, Chris. "A Beautiful Mind's John Nash Is less Complex than the Real One." Slate
Magazine. N.p., 21 Dec. 2001. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.
Mitchell, Nigel G. "A Beautiful Lie: The Truth Behind "A Beautiful Mind"" Monkey Migraine
Mountain. N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.
News, ABC. "How Realistic Is 'A Beautiful Mind'?" ABC News. ABC News Network, 17 Jan.
1970. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

A Beautiful Mind. Dir. Ron Howard. Perf. Russell Crowe. 2001. DVD. staff. "Was "A Beautiful Mind" a Realistic Portrayal Of Schizophrenia? |" N.p., 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.