Schizophrenic Creativity In Nasar's A Beautiful Mind And Ron Howard's Movie

2120 words - 9 pages

Schizophrenic Creativity in Nasar's A Beautiful Mind and Ron Howard's Movie

In Ron Howard's (2001) A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe gives life to Sylvia Nasar's depiction of the schizophrenic genius John Nash in her novel of the same title. Both Nasar and Howard try to depict Nash's creative genius in an effort to unlock understanding of the creative process. The underlying reality of Nash's psychological creative process may never fully be realized due to the extreme difficulty of coherently portraying the mind of a schizophrenic, however the relationships between the portrayals of Nash through each medium shed light on Howard's own view of the creative process. Howard's decision ...view middle of the document...

Charles Herman, Nash's imagined roommate, appears as soon as Nash begins his graduate life at Princeton. During this time, Nash comes up with his non cooperative Game Theory for which he later receives the Nobel Prize. Howard portrays Nasar's sane but stressed Nash throughout this time, but lays the foundations for his final conclusion that Nash's schizophrenia is directly linked to his creative process. The fact that Charlie is a result of Nash's insanity is Howard's link between Nash's creative process and his schizophrenia.

Although Howard deviates from Sylvia Nasar's novel and the truth of Nash's illness with his introduction of Charlie, Howard does depict a very strong and driven John Nash right from the beginning. Both Nasar and Howard show just how much John Nash wanted to be known amongst his peers. His asocial attitude toward his peers has led some to conclude that his reclusive behavior was one of the factors that led to his schizophrenia, and thus his creative mind. Howard definitely makes this link with Charlie. Schizophrenia was Nash's reaction to his solitude. However, Nash's drive to create something profound was, in a sense, schizophrenic in and of itself. Both Nasar's book and Howard's movie show a Nash who is very arrogant about his intellectual ability. Nasar writes: "Nash was very interested that everyone would recognize how smart he was, not because he needed this admiration, but anybody who didn't recognize it wasn't on top of things. If anyone wasn't aware, he would take a little trouble to make sure he found out." Nash does go on to come up with his Game Theory, however, before that, he does appear to be slightly out of touch with reality. Although it is accepted that Nash didn't go insane until around the age of thirty, Charlie may well be Howard's attempt to portray Nash's desire to be known amongst his peers and his slightly off base assumption of his intellectual prowess before the completion of his Game Theory.

Howard thus makes the case that John Nash's creativity spawned from both his schizophrenia and his obsessive desire to be known. However, there is a very important part of Nash's life that has been left out from the movie A Beautiful Mind. After coming up with the Game Theory, Nash went on to work for RAND. Fortune Magazine described RAND as "the Air Force's big-brain-buying venture." The movie does try to touch upon such a military recognition when Nash visits the Pentagon, but the movie, again, falsely relates his successes at the Pentagon to his schizophrenia. Howard's addition of Parcher to the end of the scene is his way of making that connection. However, Nasar's version of the story clearly emphasizes a break between Nash's release from RAND and the onslaught of his mental disease. Like Howard's use of Charlie, his use of Parcher in the Pentagon could be his way of depicting a neurological phenomenon in Nash that was slightly schizophrenic in and of itself or that would lead eventually to the...

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