a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|An employee of the IRS who is obsessed with counting and performing mental computations begins to hear the voice of a woman narrating his life. He soon learns that he is a character in a novel and that the narrator is a reclusive author famous for killing off her characters in interesting ways.
This is a very entertaining and artfully made film. In particular, even the animated overlay reflecting the computations (reminiscent of NUMB3RS and A Beautiful Mind) are fun. However, if it was only the character's interest in integers that was mathematical, I might not have decided to include it on this list.
Interestingly, there is another less obvious "mathematical" dimension to the film. Many of the names of characters and locations in the film are names of famous mathematicians!
Some reviews I have read claim all of the characters are named after mathematicians, but I guess it depends how you define "mathematician".
Personally, I would not consider Gustave Eiffel, Francis Crick or M.C. Escher to be mathematicians, even though the work for which they are most famous certainly depended to some degree upon mathematics. But, encountering the names Pascal, Hilbert, Cayley, and Mittag-Leffler all in one film is certainly a rare event. The literature professor named Hilbert is an obvious example, but if you watch closely you'll notice smaller things, like the bus route identified as "Kronecker" and the publisher named after Benjamin Banneker.
Finally, let me comment that it might also be interesting to mathematically analyze this film using the concept of "narrative distance" as developed by Hilbert Shenck in his short story The Geometry of Narrative . For instance, I wonder where the mathematical names lie in narrative space? Are they just names that Zach Helm chose for his movie, putting them at the standard narrative distance...or is the reason for these names that the author in the movie has chosen them for her character, putting them one step farther from the audience?
|More information about this work can be found at imdb.com.|
|(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)