British author Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. Earlier this week, Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for capturing proteins in action. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) today. Perfect time then, for us to explore some of the films about past laureates.
A Beautiful Mind
With brilliant performances from Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, this John Nash biopic (he won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994) delves deep into his struggles with paranoid schizophrenia. The mental illness means that Nash is robbed of a normal life, and at one point, even causes harm to his wife and child. At times sharp, incisive, this Ron Howard directed film portrays a heartbreaking tale of a mathematical genius who overcomes his mental illness.
I’m Not There
An unconventional biopic of the very uncoventional Bob Dylan, the film cast a string of popular actors (Christian Bale, the late Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett among others) to bring about the many facets of the singer-song writer. It’s a bold, abstract film that chooses to show the many personae within Dylan. That it is not done as a series of stories, and is instead shown as parallel narratives is a testament to Todd Haynes’ directorial abilities.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie shine in this biopic about the late South African leader who fought hard for his people. The film itself is nothing much to write home about (despite the extraordinary source material), but the stunning performances do redeem it a bit.
This film could have been a stirring look at Mandela’s radical life. Instead, it is a conservative film that nonetheless tries very hard to do justice to its core content.
The 14th Dalai Lama’s life is the base for this incredibly vivid film directed by Martin Scorsese. The director chooses to focus on the mystical and spiritual aspects of the Dalai Lama, ignoring the very fallible human being who rests beneath those iconic orange robes. Nonetheless, this 1998 film is a beautiful watch both for its visual elegance and for its attempts to portray religion as the key to salvation in this increasingly materialistic world.
Theory of Everything
This film explores the bittersweet love story of the celebrated physicist and Nobel laureate Stephen Hawking and his former wife Jane Hawking. The story begins with Hawking’s university life and later when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and traces his life’s journey. It is based on Jane Hawking’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for portrayal of the master physicist.
A Satyajit Ray classic, this short film offered the audience a peek into the life of the bearded poet, and offered glimpses into his childhood. The film was released to coincide with Tagore’s birth centenary celebrations in 1961.