Monday, April 14, 2008

The True John Nash

I've been having a really hard time getting back into the blog writing mode, so here's my attempt to make it up for the past few weeks: 1 of 3... oops.

A Beautiful Mind clearly portrays John Nash as an awkward, weird genius, but ultimately endearing and strangely sweet. The choice of actor makes this an easy portrayal, as Russell Crowe is one of the most admired actors of our time and is known for his skill as well as his charm and good looks. However, John Nash, the real John Nash, as brilliant as he may be, is NOT the nicest guy. Certain things were strategically left out of the movie for dramatic effects and to not detract from the main focus of the movie, his exaggerated schizophrenia. In truth, John Nash was a weird man, with a temper, homosexual tendencies, and enjoyed torturing animals. He had a fascination for chemistry and would spend time making explosives which eventually led to the death of one of his "friends". He was also cruel to his sister, as he once tried to get her to sit in a chair he had wired up with batteries! Nash was somewhat of a nut case in more ways than just one. According to some of his peers from college, he would sit at the piano and strike the same chord over and over again. He would let ice cream melt on top of his clothes and observe it. He would sometimes walk on top of his roommate to go turn off the light. He would crawl in bed with boys who would make fun of him for his homosexual tendencies and then he would retaliate by doing their homework (that part... I don't get!)
Before Alicia, Jennifer Connelly, Nash had a girlfriend by the name of Eleanor with whom he had a son. "Nash was looking for emotional partners who were more interested in giving than receiving, and Eleanor, was very much that sort." So he didn't marry her, despite her wishes. After his son was born he was arrested in a police operation to trap homosexuals and was fired from RAND. Then he met Alicia, and married her. And THEN he started displaying syndromes of schizophrenia. So up to that point, the guy was just a jerk.
There are reports that he was abusive to Alicia, as well as anti-Semitic and racist.

I understand that a Hollywood movie isn't going to have every detail of someone's life in it, but it is rather interesting that the depiction of John Nash is so far off and it is in general the only reason people know John Nash. Also, his schizophrenia was auditory not visual, which makes sense that it was changed for cinematic purposes.

I think in general there is an admiration towards extremely intelligent people and there's a reluctance to portray them as people with regular problems because there is a tendency to worship them in an almost "god-like" way. So we see Max and Nash as these really strange people with problems that we can't even fathom to have because they're geniuses and it's their "burden" or something. In reality, geniuses can be assholes just like everybody else.


emma said...

do you think they altered the story in order to make him seem more like a hero to us, or to make more sales at the box office? i think it would have been a more interesting movie if they had portrayed him with all his flaws, but would russell crowe and jennifer connelly still have taken these roles? would it still have won its 4 oscars?

Ana said...

I think they altered the story for both reasons. I think most people don't want to watch really depressive stuff when they go to the movies unless it's really removed from their own lives. So it's easier to accommodate large audiences with a schizo main character than with a semi schizo asshole.