InstructorsStudentsReviewersAuthorsBooksellers Contact Us
Student Resources for Psychology
Psych on Screen
Article: A Piece of Pi

By Elaine Cassel

Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is the agoraphobic, paranoid, hallucinating, mathematical genius (plagued by migraine headaches) who deciphers the seemingly indecipherable pattern in what mere mortals see as the chaos of the ups and downs of the stock market. Max's insight comes from his understanding of "chaos" theory--a concept rooted in mathematics and physics that explores connections between seemingly unconnected events in the universe, and "game" theory, an idea steeped in mathematics that explores connections between global economic events. Both of these theories represent the human mind's search for pattern, order, and prediction in what appear to be the random, inexplicable, and indefinable. Having cracked the code of the stock market's ebb and flow with his high-powered hand-made supercomputer as his research assistant, Max is wooed by representatives of religion (a sect of Hasidic Jews who want him to help them decode the secrets of the cabala, including when the true Messiah will appear) and greed (Wall Street investors who see in Max's genius a chance to maximize their greed potential).

Unique camera techniques and grainy black-and-white film (chosen for artistic, not financial, reasons) take us inside the mind and the body of the mathematical genius. We can almost hear and see the synapses firing and connecting at lightening speed and feel the muscles in his arms and fingers as they race across the keyboard in an almost demonic quest for understanding, fueled by insatiable curiosity and unparalleled intelligence. The movie also portrays the darker side of genius-- its loneliness and its effect of obscuring the ordinary beauty of life with extraordinary abstractions.

The movie, produced for a mere $60,000 is the first feature movie directed by Darren Aronofsky.

Pi, the Greek word referring to the relationship between a circle's circumference and its diameter was directed and produced by Darren Aronofsky. Rated R for language and disturbing images, it is 85 minutes in length.

Site Map I Partners I Press Releases I Company Home I Contact Us
Copyright Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions of Use, Privacy Statement, and Trademark Information