Notebook

Ramanujan

Matt Brown’s 2015 film about the great mathematician, ‘based on true events’, is based on a fair amount of imagination, too. The result is a picturesque but somewhat unsatisfactory yarn full of facile stereotypes, with more than a passing resemblance to Slumdog Millionaire. There are good lines in it, though, as when Hardy says, in an early encounter, ‘You, just as Mozart could hear an entire symphony in his head – you dance with numbers to infinity’; then, later, while promoting Ramanujan’s candidature as a Fellow of the Royal Society: ‘We are merely explorers of infinity in pursuit of absolute perfection: we do not invent these formulae; they already exist and lie in wait.’

And, of course, there are Ramanujan’s own words of certified authenticity: ‘An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.’