A Beautiful Mind: Awards Edition on DVD
John Forbes Nash, Jr. was a brilliant mathematician who won international acclaim for his work. Along the way, however, he fought a near-lifelong battle with schizophrenia. How this battle affected his life, his work, and his marriage is the subject of A Beautiful Mind. But it's the way this is depicted that makes director Ron Howard's best film to date such a triumph. It won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Other major awards went to Jennifer Connelly (Best Supporting Actress) and Akiva Goldsman (Best Screenplay). Russell Crowe was nominated for Best Actor, but did not win. This takes nothing away from the quality of his performance—the finest of his career to date. As John Nash, he carries the film.
The filmmakers have been criticized in some quarters for taking liberties in their telling of the story, but none of the changes violate the fundamental facts of Nash's life. He rose from a poor background to distinction in academe, struggled first with social ineptitude and later with mental illness, and eventually learned to cope with both handicaps and won the Nobel Prize. But the pleasure in A Beautiful Mind is not in the individual details but rather in the way in which the filmmakers put it all together. Howard shows us what's going on in Nash's mind in a genuinely original way. To tell you more would reveal too much, but the movie plays out in ways that will surprise you.
This two-disc set is loaded with extras. The movie disc has commentary tracks by Howard and Goldsman, plus extensive deleted scenes viewable with or without Howard's commentary. Disc 2 includes a number of featurettes about various aspects of the production, plus clips from the recent Academy Awards. The text on the back of the case is seriously misleading in one respect, however: A feature called "A Beautiful Mind Soundtrack" is not the complete soundtrack from the film (as was included as a rare feature on the DVD for Howard's Apollo 13), but a commercial for the soundtrack CD.
The sound is excellent, though rarely showy and never attention-grabbing. But the dialogue and music are superbly recorded, fully justifying a top rating. The picture quality is outstanding—sharp, clean, and detailed. And with the exception of a few shots, there's no intrusive edge enhancement.
A Beautiful Mind deserved its Oscar as the best film of 2001. It's now one of the best DVDs of 2002.