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“Great knowledge comes from the humblest of origins.” This gem of a movie celebrates the brilliance of little-known mathematician and genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, played by Dev Patel. Ramanujan was born into poverty in Madras, India in 1886. Self-taught in the complexities of higher equations and theorems, he caught the attention of noted British academic G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) at Trinity College in Cambridge just prior to World War I. Hardy arranges Ramanujan’s move to Great Britain.

While the film is a period piece about the culture and societal clashes of that day, it also deals with the clash between intuition and instinct versus process and proof. Ramanujan’s mental math abilities are called into question because he does not provide the formulaic proofs. A further layer is that of his deep confessional response to mathematics. “An equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of God.”

Declining health, aggravated by his isolation and adherence to a religious diet, compelled him to return to his wife and life in India. Despite his premature death at the age of 32, Ramanujan is remembered for breaking more than one barrier in his worlds. An excellent film to share with an education staff, a high school class, or a film group. On disc now. (Paramount)

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