In 1960 there was a young man graduated from University of Michigan, did some brilliant work in mathematics specifically bounded harmonic functions. Then he went on to Berkley and become an assistant professor showing some amazing potential. He moved to Montana and blew the world competition away. It’s less revealing and more shocking to know that he’s Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.
Its surprising revelation for MIT Professor that the man who solves the most complex puzzles on board isn’t any MIT student of his class but a self learner Maths prodigy Will Hunting who’s working under Parole Employment Programme in the institute to clean the floor. The most serious problem with this gifted young man is his uncontrolled anger and rough and rude attitude towards society excluding few of his close pals. Anyway Professor saved him from a trial with having a promise from the boy that he will help him to solve some mathematical puzzles and will regularly attend therapist. It’s quite impossible to handle this case for any therapist but than comes an experienced humanitarian professor who helped him recognize his true self in the world.
What’s role of education? What purpose it really serves to humanity? Is it means to create brilliant scientific prodigy and nurturing their talents fully equipped at MIT or Harvard? What if this skill and talent lacks direction, discipline or ethics? Instead of Ramanujan and Einstein he ends up with techno savvy terrorist or nuclear bomb maker. Because direction is one thing and manipulation is another.
More than Gus Van Sant’s direction the screenplay plays pivotal part. It’s undoubtedly a brilliant screenplay written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who happens to be the actors of the same film. They got striking Oscar for their first screenplay directly written for the screen. Why this winning pair become one film wonder is still a question!!!
Matt Damon is promising young talent. Unlike other handsome Hollywood stars, he has quite common features. Along with this film, he also gave notable performance in Coppola’s courtroom drama ‘The Rainmaker’ in early part of his career. I don’t know why later he got lured by Hollywood’s thrill-action driven cinema while being stuck to ‘Bourne Series’. Robin Williams is naturally one of the finest gentleman actor of all-time performing some of the most serene, humanitarian and touchy acts in his wide career. I must say this is one of his memorable role as therapeutic professor and he won Oscar too as supporting actor. The film got nine nominations in 1998 Oscars, winning two as above mentioned.
P.S. - Its pleasure for me to learn about India’s greatest Maths wizard Ramanujan from this fine Hollywood film that he lived a tiny hut and neither got any formal education of the Maths nor had access to any scientific work. But he came across a simple old book of Maths and from that book he was able to extrapolate theories of continued fractions that had baffled mathematicians for the years. He mailed it to Hardy at Cambridge and the professor recognized the brilliance of his work and brought him to England where both of them worked together for years creating some of most exciting math theory ever done.