Mathematicians in the Movies

It's time for a list of real (not fictional) mathematicians (and mathematical physicists) who are featured in motion pictures. Links are to my writeups on these films. Additional suggestions are welcome.

Rene Descarte

Cartesius (1974) TV biography by Roberto Rossellini. Anyone know where to find a copy?

Albert Einstein

I.Q. (1994) Time's Person of the Century

The late Walter Matthau plays Einstein. Lou Jacobi is Kurt Gödel. A character search at retrieves over two dozen films with Einstein as a character. (photo)

Paul Erdös

Paul Erdös at the blackboardN is a Number (1993)

"A mathematician is a machine that converts coffee into theorems."

Several other mathematicians appear in this film. See the credits. (photo)

Richard Feynman

Infinity (1996)

"Mathematics is a language. It's very difficult. It's subtle. You couldn't say those things any other way - and I can talk to dead people with it. I talk to Copernicus every day." (photo)

Steven Hawking

A Brief History of Time (1992)

Several other mathematicians and astrophysicists, including Roger Penrose, are interviewed in this film. See the credits.

Hawkings is also featured in the PBS series Stephen Hawking's Universe.

John Nash

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

the real John Nash, Russell Crowe & Ron Howard courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Alan Turing

Breaking the Code

There is also a new film called Enigma (2001) that dramatizes what happened at Bletchley Park without mentioning Turing.

Andrew Wiles

Fermat's Last Theorem (1997) A BBC program on Wiles proof and its tribulations. A transcript of the program is available online.

Fermat's Last Tango (2001)

"...a musical fantasia based on the true encounter between mathematician Andrew Wiles and Fermat's last theorem..." Other characters include Euclid, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Pythagoras, Pierre de Fermat , Sir Isaac Newton


Math in the Movies created and maintained by Arnold G. Reinhold

Suggestions welcome!

Created 2002-1-13, rev. 2002-4-30