What movies had mathematics as their primary focus?
There are many mathematical themes seen in television and the movies, and if you want to know more, just type in “mathematics and television” or “mathematics and movies” into a search engine on the Internet. For example, there is the Mathematics in Movies site of Oliver Knill at Harvard University’s Department of Mathematics, providing a list of movies and television shows (and some interesting comments about how mathematics are “abused”—and amusing—in many shows) and video clips of each.
Just to give a few examples, the following three movies were either about mathematicians or had a dominant mathematical theme:
A Beautiful Mind (2001)—Based on the book by Sylvia Nasar (also see above about the original book), this is Hollywood’s version of John Nash’s rise, descent into mental illness, and eventual redemption. Directed by Ron Howard, it stars Russell Crowe and Ed Harris.
Pi (1998)—This dark, low-budget, black-and-white film is about a mathematician’s obsessive search for patterns in everything, while everyone from Wall Street investors to religious fundamentalists want to find and exploit him. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, it stars Sean Gullette and Mark Margolis.
Infinity (1996)—This movie about the early life of brilliant and eccentric Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918–1988), is both a tribute to the scientist and a whimsical romance. Directed by Matthew Broderick, it stars Matthew Broderick and Patricia Arquette.