π [Pi] * Darren Aronofsky * 1998

Posted in arthouse, thriller, undefinable and tagged on by .

I have seen this film when it still played in the cinemas a couple of years ago. Since it is one of my favourite films and after quite some searching I finally have it on video, I thought it would be a good idea to review it afterall.

“Pi” is about a young man called Maximilian Cohen (Sean Gullette) who has had severe headache attacks since he looked into the sun too long at the age of 6. Whether or not this also played part in him turning out to be a mathematic genius, is an unanswered question. As he calls it himself, Max is a “number theorist” and he was taught by his teacher Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis). Sol had a stroke after working too hard on finding a pattern in the digits of Pi and turned out in a cynical philosopher who Max still turns to once in a while.

Max lives by three assumptions which are restated a few times in the film:
1- Mathematics is the language of nature;
2- Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers;
3- If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge.
Therefor there are numbers anywhere in nature.

Doesn’t this remind you of Pythagoras? Well, this greek “mathematician and cult-leader” is shortly mentioned.

Max sees evidence for his assumptions in the “cyclic disease epidemics”, “the wax and way of the karibu populations”, “sunspot cycles”, “the rise and fall of the nile”.

This lead Max to believe to be a pattern in the stockmarket, the finding of which is his goal. Therefor he built a gigantic computer in his appartment (which he called “Euclide”). His efforts draw the attention of two kinds of people. First people interested in this very pattern in the stockmarket. Second, a group of Kabbalists (Jewish mystics) searching for the secret name of God.

Sol speaks about a 216 digit number that his computer spat out when it crashed. Lenny Meyers (the Jew that tries to interest Max) says they are looking for a 216 digit number as the pattern in the Torah. Being written in Hebrew, the Torah is both text and numbers, since in Hebrew every letter is also a number.

Max decides to help the Jews, finds the digits again (he had them when his own computer crashed), but doesn’t want to give it away to either of the selfish groups asking for his help.

The film is shot in black and white and with magnificent progressive camera-work. The soundtrack has great drum and bass sounds by quite well-known artists (Aphex Twin for example). There are wonderfull vague scenes in which Max has visions during his attacks and with only a handfull of actors or places where the shooting took place, Aronofsky made a brilliant debut. Definately a

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