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The Professor and the Madman: A Masterful And Fascinating Story

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If I am to fashion a book,
I’ll need a spine.

Sometimes you are awed by cinema films because of the immensely beautiful special effects and the use of unparalleled images. The other time it’s the inventiveness of a story and the way it’s structured. And in other films, you look with admiration at the way certain actors play their role. Is it obligatory that a movie looks phenomenal to you? Or does it happen sometimes that while reading a novel, in which the sophisticated juggling with words creates literary excitement, you have difficulties to keep your eyes open and your head nods back after a short period after which a little snoring is heard? Well, in that case, it might be better for you to ignore this film. Because in “The Professor and the Madman” there are no breathtaking special effects to be found and the emphasis is on the literature from this world. For me, this was a masterful and fascinating story about how the world-famous “Oxford Dictionary” was put together.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

A practically impossible task.

Even though this takes place around 1850, there are certain facts that can be found in our contemporary society. And, of course, there are also substantial differences. The film is not just about the realization of an almost impossible assignment with limited resources. It’s also about the existence of class differences, scientific ignorance and the application of inhumane practices in psychiatric institutions. It demonstrates the pretentious behavior of the wealthy class and the political juggling in intellectual circles. And in between these topics, there’s the Scotsman James Murray (Mel Gibson) who, with the help of countless strips of paper, miles of knitting yarn and with a ton of patience, tries to contain and interpret every existing English word in literary history. An assignment that requires immense efforts to the detriment of his wife and children.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

Literature isn’t a sexy subject.

I’m aware that literature (at least for me) isn’t exactly a sexy subject. I already assumed that this film wouldn’t be intense or exciting. But just like with “Kill your Darlings“, this historical drama fascinated me. And this because of the challenge Murray took on. I looked in disbelief at the method that was applied. And I was constantly wondering if this was achievable. It’s an era where people didn’t know the word digital yet (one word they don’t need to concentrate on) and they didn’t have computers at their disposal. No indexed work file with linked cross-reference tables on which one could release SQL statements, to do big data analyses. No, everything was scribbled down with old-fashioned ink pens on sheets of paper and then attached to the walls. Can it be more primitive? It’s wonderful to see that James Murray actually applies the principle of content management here by encouraging the English people to write down English words and send them to them by mail (indeed no e-mail).

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

Brilliant acting by Gibson and Penn.

It’s mainly the brilliant acting of the gentlemen Mel Gibson and Sean Penn that makes the film more interesting. Gibson plays the Scottish academic and autodidact who, despite the opposition of the established values from the Oxford Board of Directors, is appointed as the driving force behind this renowned work and is a model of perseverance. My favorite scene is where he’s introduced to these intellectual snobs who don’t even bother to hide their aversion. The moment Murray lists all the languages he knows and I saw those bewildered faces of the narcissistic academics, it immediately reminded me of the scene in a student bar with Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting“. There, too, such a rich man’s son with a snobbish attitude was put in his place in a brilliant way.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

Overacting? Nope, he’s just plain nuts.

Mel Gibson’s sparring partner is William Chester Minor (Sean Penn), an American army-doctor and war veteran who is haunted by delusions. In a phase of extreme madness and schizophrenia, he kills an innocent passer-by and ends up in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. In short, an institution for criminal madmen. The doctor on duty there, Dr. Richard Brayn (Stephen Dillane), initially envisages a decent treatment (which leads to certain privileges such as a large room with a gigantic library). But towards the end, he eventually seems to be a supporter of terrible techniques anyway. It’s thanks to a book that Minor received from his victim’s widow (In my eyes, the weakest aspect in this film) that he finds out that Murray asked the English people for help. And that’s the impetus for Minor to get to work and to overload Murray with thousands of words for the dictionary. The way Penn plays this tormented and insane man is simply formidable. And yes, this tends to look like overacting. But isn’t it necessary to portray this type of individual? Minor is after all nuts.

 

The Professor and the Madman

 

The beards intrigued me.

There are several facets that are beautifully worked out. Such as the detailed decor in which the story takes place. London during the 19th century with its typical costumes, way people behave and attributes. But above all, the interaction between the two extremely brilliant gentlemen is perfectly portrayed. Two tortured intellectuals. The one because of the obstructions and impossibility of the assignment. The other because of the inner demons that make his life unbearable. An individual suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An unknown condition in those days. The dialogues in which the two gentlemen show their love for English vocabulary is sublime to watch. The way in which they both perk up while saying one word after the other with a smile is a feast for the eyes. Perhaps the corny storyline about the widow Eliza Merrett (NatalieGame of ThronesDormer) didn’t really fit in with the whole and the emphatic message about regret and forgiveness was a bit over-the-top. But despite those shortcomings, I found this historic film based on true facts fascinating enough. So if you have questions about the origin of dictionaries, you shouldn’t miss this film. At the same time, you also have an idea about academic intellectualism (and their self-righteous and arrogant attitude) and the horror of 19th-century psychiatry. But what I wondered the most: are Gibson’s and Penn’s beard the result of natural beard growth or props?

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

Crime

Inherit the Viper: Isn’t A Masterpiece, But Still It Fascinates

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Josie… promise me something.
Protecting this family comes first.
When it’s time to quit, we quit.
No questions asked.

 

Everyone knows the principle of the “American Dream”. The ideal image of a hard-working American who, regardless of his origin, can reach the top through hard work and commitment. “Inherit the Viper” shows the other side of the coin. A film about American citizens who experience the “American Nightmare”. They are part of agglomerations located in remote areas where poverty prevails and survival instinct is a necessity. An additional problem in recent years in the U.S. is the opioid crisis that causes an unprecedented number of victims. This widespread addiction is the Conley family’s important source of income. Apparently they inherited the business from their deceased father. Although, the storyline about what happened to him wasn’t really clear to me.

 

Inherit the Viper

 

More a family drama than a crime story.

Inherit the Viper” is primarily a crime thriller in which the Conley family, consisting of sister Josie (Margarita Levieva) and her two brothers Kip (JoshPearl HarborHartnett) and Boots (OwenITTeague), try to make ends meet by running a thriving drug-dealing business somewhere in Appalachia (especially the opioid pills OxyContin) and to sell pills to the locals massively. Even though the subject lends itself to the elaboration of a solid crime story, this film is rather a family drama in which the dynamic between the different family members is central. A family triangle with opposite character traits.

 

Inherit the Viper

 

Family business.

Josie is the tough little cookie from the family whose numbness has reached shocking proportions. Without hesitation, she puts a freshly sold pill back in her pocket that she finds next to the body of an addicted old woman who just died. Self-interest has more priority to her than compassion for a fellow person. Hence the explanation for a later initiative she takes and which shows how numb she is. Kip is an ex-soldier. A hardened and fearless gut-eater who knows the tricks of the trade. Yet he’s the one who would prefer to stop with the family business in order to build a safer future with his heavily pregnant girlfriend. And finally, you have Boots, the benjamin of the family. This impetuous teenager wants nothing more than to get into the family business as quickly as possible. Because this is still being put on hold by brother and especially his sister, it’s Boots who takes an initiative. Unfortunately, things are not going the way he’d hoped.

 

Inherit the Viper

 

Not a masterpiece but still fascinating.

Inherit the Viper” isn’t a masterpiece, but still it fascinates. It’s a gray, dark (literally and figuratively) portrait about despair and how to survive in a run-down and soulless corner in American society. A life without a future that requires the protagonists to make unworthy decisions. No shred of compassion is shown. It’s all about supporting the family. Although you feel the tension constantly and the Conley family is slowly but surely confronted with threatening situations (a police investigation is in progress resulting in an accusing finger pointing at them and revenge-seeking city dwellers who have lost someone thanks to the Conley’s threaten them) there are very few action-rich or criminal scenes. This is largely compensated by the interesting interactions and the realistic appearance of the film. The most colorful role is that of BruceThe Monkey’s PawDern as the obscure, critically ill bar owner where Josie deals pills. A local character who isn’t amused with the fact that corpses are piling up in his bar and whose metaphorical story actually uncovers the essence of what this film is about. And also it’s an explanation of the film title. Although I am not 100% sure about that either.

 

Inherit the Viper

 

Worth a watch.

The denouement managed to surprise me in a certain way. And I was also pleased to see that Josh Hartnett hasn’t slipped off the grid. If you come across “Inherit the Viper” on a VOD service, I recommend to give it a chance. This dark film is worth a watch.

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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Action

Sony Pictures Releases ‘Bloodshot’ Trailer #2 – HD

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Genre:

Action, Drama, Fantasy

Release Date:

February 21, 2020 (Post Production)

Director:

Dave Wilson

Cast:

Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzálaz, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris

Plot Summary:

After he and his wife are murdered, marine Ray Garrison is resurrected by a team of scientists. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman, biotech killing machine – Bloodshot. As Ray first trains with fellow super-soldiers, he cannot recall anything from his former life. But when his memories flood back and he remembers the man that killed both him and his wife, he breaks out of the facility to get revenge, only to discover that there’s more to the conspiracy than he thought.

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Action

Morbius | Official Teaser – HD

Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

July 31, 2020

Director:

Daniel Espinosa

Cast:

Jared Leto, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith, Tyrese Gibson,

Plot Summary: 

Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.

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