Writing Portfolio The 2001 biopic/drama film ‘A Beautiful Mind’, directed by Ron Howard is a prime example of a text in which visual and verbal techniques are used to develop the personality of a character. An important job for the director of any film is to establish a framework and personality for the protagonist. ‘A Beautiful Mind’ is no different, and visual and verbal techniques are used effectively to develop the personality of John Nash.
But because Ron Howard is dealing with a very complex character in the form of a paranoid schizophrenic mathematician, his personality is forever changing and the differing film techniques achieve this. As this film is a biopic/drama drawn into one, the viewer follows Nash’s life over a number of years. Nash faces many tricky dilemmas and the way he deals with these situations are conveyed to the audience, using these film techniques. Nash (who is portrayed by Russell Crowe) changes drastically throughout the text, because he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
Director Ron Howard uses the technique of ‘characterisation’ to adapt his personality in different ways. Throughout the text, the viewer is introduced to several ‘imaginary characters’, who are in fact delusional figures created by Nash. The first component of the ‘characterisation’ technique is when director Ron Howard chooses to introduce these characters. Often injected at great times of stress for Nash, the delusion characters normally create further dispute between Nash and his real life companions.
An important stage of the text is just after the climax, where Howard chooses to include and remove Nash’s best friend Charles (in the form of the actor). Nash is preparing a bath for his baby son, while wife Alicia is outside tending to the washing outside. But because Nash suffers from schizophrenia, he is delusional and believes his friend Charles is watching the baby. For the viewer, all that is witnessed is the baby lying in the bath, crying it’s lungs out as water seeps over its head. Nash’s personality is developed negatively in this scene. For the viewer, Nash is developed negatively because of these delusions.
The delusions put his baby sons life at risk, and also cause a further rift between Nash and his wife Alicia. In earlier scenes, Nash’s friend Charles was in fact present to the viewer in the form of the actor (portrayed by Paul Bettany). The effort to include the actor in these earlier scenes is a bid by the director to create the same realism for Nash, as for the audience. But in later scenes, the removal of Bettany and other cast members changes the viewer’s perspective of this protagonist. As the actor is no longer present, the viewer is forced to side with Alicia in thinking John Nash is delusional.
The viewer here, is easily able to pin point the affects that paranoid schizophrenia has on Nash, and other sufferers of that disorder. Characterisation is important, as in these later scene his personality is changed into a very confused man. The confident, charming and intelligent John Nash of Princeton University is instantly transformed personality due to the including and removing of key characters. These key characters not only include Charles, but also his niece Marcee and Special Forces Operative William Pacher. Dialogue is another technique (this time verbal) which is important in developing the personality of character John Nash.
Director Ron Howeard opts to portray Nash as an arrogant and scornful outsider in the opening scenes of the film. During these stages, dialogue is crucial to develop this personality. “There must be some mathematical formula for how bad that tie is”, Nash statesto a fellow student on his first day at Princeton. While later, he criticises his co-recipient scholarship winner Martin Hansen by announcing “There isn’t one seminal or innovative idea” in either of his pre-prints. These quotes are just two extracts of dialogue from the early scenes of the text which develop this arrogant and scornful personality.
As the text continues and his problems with schizophrenia are developed, the idea of Nash being an outsider is put in place. Another form of dialogue is important in the closing scenes of the text. Nash’s personality has transformed remarkably from his younger days. In his elder years, he is back teaching at Princeton. Nash is a much more mellow man in these scenes and dialogue is again used as a technique to develop this personality. After being nominated for the Nobel Prize, Nash concludes during his reception speech. “Perhaps it’s good to have a beautiful mind, but it’s an even greater gift to discover a beautiful heart”.
This piece of dialogue is essential in reflecting the more mellow character that Ron Howard chooses to develop. In earlier scens, Nash is arrogant, scornful and pre-occupied to solve an innovative maths formula. Combined with his schizophrenia, this results in Nash being regarded as an outsider. In these times, he is greatly supported by his wife Alicia, as she deals with his mental disorder also. By Nash saying ‘an even greater gift is to have a beautiful heart”, proves that does identify the most important thing in life, which is his family.
His eternal love for Alicia and their son, is more important than solving mathematical formulas, and his dialogue re-iterates this changed persona. No longer is Nash a scornful outsider, and his great love for Alicia (in which he again displays) is seen more favourably by the viewers of the text and develops a nicer personality of Nash. All respect to Russell Crowe, who portrays the life of a paranoid schizophrenic fantastically, it’s the crucial visual and verbal techniques implemented by the director that implement this. Nash’s personality is troubled and he is presented as dangerous during the bath scene with his son.
By the removal of actors playing the delusional characters in the film, the viewer is truly able to see how disdurbed Nash is because of his illness. While the dialogue is unsed in the opening an clothing scenes to change Nash’s personality from an outsider, to a more open and affectionate man. Nash’s personality in the earlier scenes, is probably related to schizophrenia in general. People who suffer from the illness are often felt alone and compainionless. Ron Howard’s ability to truly reflect the persona of a PSD sufferer is important. In later scenes, Nash is drastically changed and no longer scene as an outsider.
This transformed personality is the result of careful and meaningful dialogue in the test. This would relate to Nash being much softer in the closing scenes towards both his wide and the wider society he lives in. This re-iterates the importance of language techniques and how they can be used to show a characters position amongst a community. Nash who in the beginning is established as an outsider, becomes a much more balanced man , involved in the Princeton community. Dialogue is just one of these techniques used to develop the character of John Nash effectively.