Every Friday throughout the summer, we'll be posting a movie that someone on our staff has picked as their favorite Miramax film. While the summer blockbusters invade the theaters, consider watching one of the staff picks over the weekend instead. Today's pick, Good Will Hunting, is from Alex Stein, director of Strategy and Business Development. Nominated for nine Oscars, it took home two for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.
Alex SteinI admire the film Good Will Hunting for many reasons: the brilliant performances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin Williams, the humor and wit, the evolution of Will's inner struggle, and, I must say, the scenes (both exquisitely charming and gritty) of my native Boston. But there is another reason I appreciate the film and have watched it repeatedly--the enthusiastic showcase of higher mathematics.
Early in the film, MIT Professor Lambeau, after realizing the near impossible proof he had written on the blackboard had been solved, asks the mystery mathematician to come forward. The anticipation rivals that of the moments awaiting the final results of a reality show competition.
But the story not only glamorizes math, but also showcases the keen power of knowledge in general. We are reminded that knowledge can elevate the trajectory of one's life, parry attempts of others to embarrass, and even enable some fun along the way.
The film also illustrates that the clichd inherent beauty of mathematics extends to a cinematic one as well. I have long deeply appreciated this elegance and, to this day, sometimes doodle in differential equations. Once in a while a colleague might raise an eyebrow or even heckle. Fortunately, however, the film inspires a pithy riposte: "How do you like 'dem integrals?"