Australian Council on Children and the Media

Man who knew infinity, The

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Not recommended under 10; parental guidance recommended 10 to 13 due to some scary scenes, violence , disturbing themes and possible lack of interest.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Man who knew infinity, The
  • a review of Man who knew infinity, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 May 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to scary scenes, violence, disturbing themes and lack of interest
Children 10 to 13 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, violence, disturbing themes and lack of interest
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Man who knew infinity, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 108 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) grew up in poverty in Madras, India, but is amazingly gifted with the ability to solve complex mathematical problems. He is persuaded by friends to share some of his work with academics from Cambridge University and is overwhelmed when he is invited to come to England by G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Lyons). Ramanujan arrives expecting to have his work published, but he is met with cultural imperialism at its worst.

Hardy insists that Ramanujan attend lectures to gain ‘academic rigour’, something very foreign to Ramanujan. He also requires Ramanujan to write proofs for all of his theorems, saying that otherwise they won’t be taken seriously. Hardy, along with Littlewood (Toby Jones) and Bertrand Russell (Jeremy Northam) are encouraging to Ramanujan but many of the traditional academic staff think that he’s nothing more than a charlatan. Ramanujan goes on to prove them wrong.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Racism; fatal illness; suicide; war

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A professor yells at Ramanujan, hits him, and pushes him over for showing him up in the lecture theatre.
  • Some students who have signed up as soldiers start taunting Ramanujan, calling him names, and then push him over. Ramanujan falls to the ground and the men kick him viciously.
  • A plane flies low over the university grounds. It drops a bomb which explodes near Ramanujan. A woman is seen dead on the ground.
  • Ramanujan is sick with TB and thinks he has nothing left to live for. He is seen standing at the side of a railway track. A scream is heard and the screen goes white. Ramanujan is next seen unconscious in hospital – it is apparent that he jumped in front of the train but the driver stopped in time.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The war scenes are relatively mild but injured soldiers are shown in a temporary hospital with bandages and also being carried on stretchers.
  • Ramanujan becomes very sick with TB and is shown with dark circles under his eyes.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Ramanujan is seen in great pain, clutching at his stomach.
  • Ramanujan coughs up blood. He is also feverish and delusional. He sees his skin crawling.
  • In the military hospital some of the men are in obvious pain and bloody swabs are seen.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Ramanujan dies in India at the age of 32. His funeral pyre is shown without his body. However, some children might find this upsetting.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Ramanujan marries Janaki at a young age and he says he will sleep on the floor. She tells him he should sleep in the bed with her.
  • Ramanujan and Janaki kiss.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Hardy smokes cigarettes and a pipe throughout the movie.
  • Social drinking by adults

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • bloody hell; damn; god awful
  • There are racist taunts such as ‘little wog’ and ‘freeloading little blackie’ and one of the professors tells Ramanujan to ‘crawl back under the rock from where he came’.

In a nutshell

The man who knew infinity is a biographical drama about the life of the famous mathematician Ramanujan. It is very well portrayed and displays the open racism that regularly occurred in the early 20th century. It is interesting to see the contrast between life in Madras (now Chennai) and life at Cambridge University. There is some violence in the film which is relatively mild but could be upsetting for younger children, as could the film's themes of racism and fatal illness. The film would probably lack interest for most children under 13 and is more suited to older children, teens and adults.

The main messages from this movie are to persevere with what you know to be true and not give up in the face of adversity.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include determination, persistence and resilience. They may wish to discuss the racism seen in the film.

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