Connect with us

Drama

The Professor and the Madman: A Masterful And Fascinating Story

Published

on

If I am to fashion a book,
I’ll need a spine.

Sometimes you are awed by cinema films because of the immensely beautiful special effects and the use of unparalleled images. The other time it’s the inventiveness of a story and the way it’s structured. And in other films, you look with admiration at the way certain actors play their role. Is it obligatory that a movie looks phenomenal to you? Or does it happen sometimes that while reading a novel, in which the sophisticated juggling with words creates literary excitement, you have difficulties to keep your eyes open and your head nods back after a short period after which a little snoring is heard? Well, in that case, it might be better for you to ignore this film. Because in “The Professor and the Madman” there are no breathtaking special effects to be found and the emphasis is on the literature from this world. For me, this was a masterful and fascinating story about how the world-famous “Oxford Dictionary” was put together.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

A practically impossible task.

Even though this takes place around 1850, there are certain facts that can be found in our contemporary society. And, of course, there are also substantial differences. The film is not just about the realization of an almost impossible assignment with limited resources. It’s also about the existence of class differences, scientific ignorance and the application of inhumane practices in psychiatric institutions. It demonstrates the pretentious behavior of the wealthy class and the political juggling in intellectual circles. And in between these topics, there’s the Scotsman James Murray (Mel Gibson) who, with the help of countless strips of paper, miles of knitting yarn and with a ton of patience, tries to contain and interpret every existing English word in literary history. An assignment that requires immense efforts to the detriment of his wife and children.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

Literature isn’t a sexy subject.

I’m aware that literature (at least for me) isn’t exactly a sexy subject. I already assumed that this film wouldn’t be intense or exciting. But just like with “Kill your Darlings“, this historical drama fascinated me. And this because of the challenge Murray took on. I looked in disbelief at the method that was applied. And I was constantly wondering if this was achievable. It’s an era where people didn’t know the word digital yet (one word they don’t need to concentrate on) and they didn’t have computers at their disposal. No indexed work file with linked cross-reference tables on which one could release SQL statements, to do big data analyses. No, everything was scribbled down with old-fashioned ink pens on sheets of paper and then attached to the walls. Can it be more primitive? It’s wonderful to see that James Murray actually applies the principle of content management here by encouraging the English people to write down English words and send them to them by mail (indeed no e-mail).

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

Brilliant acting by Gibson and Penn.

It’s mainly the brilliant acting of the gentlemen Mel Gibson and Sean Penn that makes the film more interesting. Gibson plays the Scottish academic and autodidact who, despite the opposition of the established values from the Oxford Board of Directors, is appointed as the driving force behind this renowned work and is a model of perseverance. My favorite scene is where he’s introduced to these intellectual snobs who don’t even bother to hide their aversion. The moment Murray lists all the languages he knows and I saw those bewildered faces of the narcissistic academics, it immediately reminded me of the scene in a student bar with Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting“. There, too, such a rich man’s son with a snobbish attitude was put in his place in a brilliant way.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

Overacting? Nope, he’s just plain nuts.

Mel Gibson’s sparring partner is William Chester Minor (Sean Penn), an American army-doctor and war veteran who is haunted by delusions. In a phase of extreme madness and schizophrenia, he kills an innocent passer-by and ends up in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. In short, an institution for criminal madmen. The doctor on duty there, Dr. Richard Brayn (Stephen Dillane), initially envisages a decent treatment (which leads to certain privileges such as a large room with a gigantic library). But towards the end, he eventually seems to be a supporter of terrible techniques anyway. It’s thanks to a book that Minor received from his victim’s widow (In my eyes, the weakest aspect in this film) that he finds out that Murray asked the English people for help. And that’s the impetus for Minor to get to work and to overload Murray with thousands of words for the dictionary. The way Penn plays this tormented and insane man is simply formidable. And yes, this tends to look like overacting. But isn’t it necessary to portray this type of individual? Minor is after all nuts.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

The beards intrigued me.

There are several facets that are beautifully worked out. Such as the detailed decor in which the story takes place. London during the 19th century with its typical costumes, way people behave and attributes. But above all, the interaction between the two extremely brilliant gentlemen is perfectly portrayed. Two tortured intellectuals. The one because of the obstructions and impossibility of the assignment. The other because of the inner demons that make his life unbearable. An individual suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An unknown condition in those days. The dialogues in which the two gentlemen show their love for English vocabulary is sublime to watch. The way in which they both perk up while saying one word after the other with a smile is a feast for the eyes. Perhaps the corny storyline about the widow Eliza Merrett (NatalieGame of ThronesDormer) didn’t really fit in with the whole and the emphatic message about regret and forgiveness was a bit over-the-top. But despite those shortcomings, I found this historic film based on true facts fascinating enough. So if you have questions about the origin of dictionaries, you shouldn’t miss this film. At the same time, you also have an idea about academic intellectualism (and their self-righteous and arrogant attitude) and the horror of 19th-century psychiatry. But what I wondered the most: are Gibson’s and Penn’s beard the result of natural beard growth or props?

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Action

The Batman | Official Trailer 2 – DC Fandome

The Batman is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. The film is being produced by DC Films and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and is a reboot of the Batman film franchise. The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who wrote the screenplay with Mattson Tomlin.



Published

on

By

Genre:

Action, Crime, Drama

Release Date:

March 4, 2022

Director:

Matt Reeves

Cast:

Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, John Turturro, Jeffrey Wright

Plot Summary:

The Batman is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. The film is being produced by DC Films and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and is a reboot of the Batman film franchise. The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who wrote the screenplay with Mattson Tomlin.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Drama

Mothers of the Revolution – They’ve Challenged World Leaders, Altered The Course Of History And Truly Inspired Millions

Published

on

Mothers of the Revolution tells the story of one of the longest protests in history. Between 1981 and 2000, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a rightful stand against nuclear proliferation. This remarkable group of fearless women were shunned by the press and the media. Director Briar March reveals the women as the cold war heroes they truly were, she tells the story of these women through their eyes and though reenactments as they persisted arrests, condemnation and scorn. 



In the early 1980s, a young mother in Wales was alarmed like many about the UK government’s Campaign called “Protect And Survive”, which advised people to use the four minutes between the warning and a nuclear strike to stack suitcases full of objects like books to absorb the radiation. The Pressure and rising threat to their own families’ safety called for action and thus the Women for Life on Earth group was born.

From the conversation around the kitchen table in Wales, Karmen Thomas took action. She was instrumental in organising the initial protest which on the 5th of September 1981 these women marched from Wales too Berkshire to protest over the nuclear weapons being kept at RAF Greenham Common. Over 120 miles they become a living protest against the British Governments decision. The protest surly gathered momentum as when the reached Greenham Common permanent camps were set up. 

Many women joined the camp such as Chris Drake, a single mother and millworker who truly felt like she belonged and felt like she was born again. Young mothers were not a group who traditionally had their voices heard at the time and the press moved on to other issues they deemed more important, So the women organised Embrace The Base. A day in which the camp and women across the country who travelled up joined hands to form a human chain around the entire military base. 

This documentary is a celebration of Greenham such as its spirit and the effects, which were all worth celebrating. However the film also shows the difficult aspects such as the brutal evictions and assaults by the police force and soldiers. It truly was a Cold War drama/thriller with the tension of a soviet spy novel. It’s also the story of love especially for family and children , and of the commitment these women made to a higher cause. 



They’ve challenged world leaders, altered the course of history and truly inspired millions, it’s an emotional and empowering documentary. 

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Drama

Brother’s Keeper – A Strong Film About Incompetent Adults Failing These Vulnerable Kids

Published

on

Yusuf (Samet Yıldız) and his best friend Memo (Nurullah Alaca) are pupils at a boarding school for Kurdish boys, secluded in the mountains of Eastern Anatolia. Both live in the same dorm as it’s a strict and a very repetitive environment, however when Memo falls mysteriously ill, Yusuf is forced to struggle through the bureaucratic obstacles put up by the school’s repressive authorities to try to help his friend. But by the time the adults in charge finally listen and understand the seriousness of Memo’s condition and desperately try to get him to a hospital, the school has been buried under a sudden heavy snowfall. despite the cold and with no way out, they’re desperate tp reach for help. Teachers and pupils engage in a blame game, where grudges, feelings of guilt and hidden secrets emerge. 



Brother’s keeper is truly a study about the power of social realism which is used as a persuasive tool but it’s also about the teacher’s incompetence, responsibility and guilt. It’s a character driven story that has investigative elements to it. 

The Pupils are reminded on how lucky they are to be there, yet it feels more like a relentless institution that’s run like a juvenile detention centre rather then a proper educational school. 

The film remains on the smaller scale and made to feel intimate. The sense of isolation creates this frosty atmosphere where the cold reflects the Icy tension between staff and pupils, the Institute is rather dull and callous but the film does have one running gag where staff members repeatedly slip on the icy floor as each teacher and headmaster enter the sickroom. 

Overall this is a really strong film about incompetent adults failing these vulnerable kids, which made the situation truly bleak. It has some great performances and foreshadows the ending which was so deep that it’ll linger.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Popular Now

Advertisement

Top Box-Office

Trending

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x