Warning: This writeup contains spoilers.
A Beautiful Mind is a biopic portraying the life and accomplishments of a mathematician named John Nash. It covers his life from his days at Princeton up to his receiving the Nobel Prize in 1994.
The film starts at Princeton in 1947 with John becoming a new student. The audience is introduced to John as a social introvert who has extreme difficulty communicating effectively with other people. Although witty and sometimes comical, he is like a fish out of water when dealing with his fellow students. To cope with his apparent lack of friendship, he creates an imaginary roommate that appears to be real to the audience until later in the film, when we find out that John is suffering from schizophrenia.
While working at The Wheeling Institute at MIT, John gets increasingly frustrated with the seemingly trivial nature of his government assignments. He feels that his true genius is being wasted on everyday tasks that don't have the impact he would like. Eventually, he is approached by a man named Parcher, who works for the Department of Defense. This man tells him that he is the greatest natural code breaker the world has ever seen, and that he is needed for a special classified assignment. His assignment is to monitor a list of periodicals and scan them for hidden messages to Russian spies. Alas, Parcher is just another creation of John's mind. This new imaginary assignment thrusts Nash into a state of complete paranoia as he is constantly afraid of being pursued by the Russians.
Eventually he is forced into treatment and is released under strict medication. However, living with the medication is no easy task. Finding that his mathematical ability and libido is hindered by the medication, he begins to hide his doses of pills to regain his genius. However, once he stops, he begins hallucinating again and his wife almost leaves.
Determined not to give in to the lunatic ravings inside his own mind, John forgoes more hospitilization and endures a heroic battle against his own visions. These visions continually haunt him, but eventually they become nothing more than scenery as he succeeds in phasing them out of his activities. The film concludes with John receiving his Nobel Prize and continuing to teach classes as a professor at Princeton University.
This film is significant for multiple reasons. Number one, it brings attention to a great man and his accomplishments. It also gives us a slight glimpse into the world of a schizophrenic. If you dig a little below the surface, you will find another moral. It seems that prescription drugs are being used increasingly for the treatment of mental illness. Although these drugs are obviously helpful for treating the symptoms, we must look deeper to the side effects that they produce. In Nash's case, he was transformed into a shell of his former self. He decided to take a very difficult road and solve this great problem with his own mind.
The fact that John Nash was able to conquer his problem should leave us with an optimistic outlook for our own problems. The fact that the human mind could overcome a disease as devastating as schizophrenia should make everyone realize that great deeds can be accomplished with great thoughts.