7 Must-See Mathematics Movies Inspired by True Events

I have watched many movies about mathematics, mathematicians, and about mathematics teachers, but I particularly like the seven below because they were inspired by true events. Although many of them diverge from actual events, I still find them more realistic compared to other movies of the same genre. For those who have not watched these movies, don’t worry as there are no spoilers in the descriptions.

1.) Stand and Deliver (1988)

Main Cast: Edward James Olmos

Stand and Deliver tells a story of high school teacher Jaime Escalante who inspired his troublesome and dropout prone students in Garfield High School to learn calculus. Many of his students pass the AP Calculus exam only to be accused by the testing board of cheating.

2.) A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Main Cast: Russell Crowe

A Beautiful Mind is a biographical film based on the life of mathematician John Forbes Nash. It centers in his struggle against paranoid schizophrenia and his relationship with his wife. 

3.) Moneyball (2011)

Main Cast: Brad Pitt

Moneyball is about the life and story of Billy Peane, General Manager of Oakland Athletics baseball team who used statistics in analyzing and selecting players. His method won Oakland 20 consecutive games in the American League in 2002.

4.) The Imitation Game (2014)

Main Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch

The Imitation Game is a biographical film based on the life of British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing. The film centers on how Turing built a machine to decrypt German intelligence codes which became instrumental in Britain’s victory against the Nazi in World Wart II.

5.) x + y (2014)

Main Cast: Asa Butterfield

x + y (released as A Brilliant Young Mind the US) follows a story of a student on his training for the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO). The main character was loosely based on Daniel Lightwing of the United Kingdom who won a silver medal in the 2006 IMO.

6.) Theory of Everything (2014)

Main Cast: Eddie Redmayne

Theory of Everything is a film about British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. The focus of the story was the relationship with his wife, his success in physics, and his struggle against motor neurone disease.

7. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016)

Main Cast: Dev Patel

The Man Who New Infinity is a biographical film of brilliant Indian mathematician Srivinasa Ramanujan. This movie accounts his collaboration with British mathematician G.H. Hardy.

Do you have other movies in mind that are inspired by true events? Please comment below.

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