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Antonia's Line (1995)
Marleen Gorris

Contributed by Fusun Akman, Coastal Carolina University

About three or more generations of strong and self-sufficient women who live on a farm and the people around them. Antonia's granddaughter is a genius, namely a mathematician and a musician. But she must be a lousy teacher because she proves a theorem in homology theory on blackboard before you can say `Hom`. She is very self-centered and hardly looks up when her daughter injures herself in play."

This Dutch film follows the story of Antonia who returns to her small hometown just after the end of World War II. We meet all of the crazy people in the town (believe me, there are a lot of them) and Antonia's own descendents.

Of special interest is Therese, Antonia's granddaughter, who shows mathematical genius as a child, and grows up to be both a composer and a math professor. We see her teaching a class in which she proves a theorem using category theory.

I am pleased to report that despite the stereotype, Therese is one of the least crazy characters in the film. On the other hand, as Fusun reports above, she is supposed to be a bit cold. Actually, I was a little bothered by the fact that even her interest in mathematics seems to be cold and completely sterile. In fact, mathematicians tend to be passionate about mathematics, to feel that it is beautiful. From the dull way she lectures about mathematics, and the way her interest in music is presented as her only aesthetic aspect, I think the film clearly implies that mathematics is "soulless".

Still, I really enjoyed this movie! It was a refreshing, thought provoking and charming change from the typical Hollywood garbage.

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Works Similar to Antonia's Line
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Continuums by Robert Carr
  2. Leaning Towards Infinity by Sue Woolfe
  3. Good Will by Jane Smiley
  4. Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda
  5. Three Days and a Child by Abraham B. Yehoshua
  6. Three times table by Sara Maitland
  7. It's My Turn by Claudia Weill (director)
  8. Hole in the Paper Sky by Howard Kingkade (Screenplay) / Bill Purple (Director)
  9. Proof by David Auburn
  10. Strange Attractors by Rebecca Goldstein
Ratings for Antonia's Line:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2/5 (5 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.8/5 (5 votes)

MotifProdigies, Anti-social Mathematicians, Mental Illness, Academia, Proving Theorems, Female Mathematicians, Math as Cold/Dry/Useless, Religion,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)