The Man Who Knew Infinity is about Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), who grows up in poverty in Madras, India, but has amazing mathematical gifts. Friends persuade him to share some of his work with academics at Cambridge University, one of whom is G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Lyons). Hardy invites Ramanujan to go to England. Ramanujan arrives expecting to have his work published, but he’s met by cultural imperialism at its worst.
Hardy insists that Ramanujan attend lectures to gain ‘academic rigour’, something very foreign to Ramanujan. Hardy also requires Ramanujan to write proofs for all of his theorems, saying that otherwise they won’t be taken seriously. Along with Littlewood (Toby Jones) and Bertrand Russell (Jeremy Northam), Hardy encourages Ramanujan, but many of the traditional academic staff think that Ramanujan is nothing more than a charlatan. Ramanujan goes on to prove them wrong.
Racism; fatal illness; suicide; war
The Man Who Knew Infinity has some violence. For example:
- 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. They call him names and then push him over. Ramanujan falls to the ground and the students 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 tuberculosis and thinks he has nothing left to live for. He stands at the side of a railway track. A scream is heard and the screen goes white. The next scene shows Ramanujan unconscious in hospital. He has jumped in front of the train, but the driver stopped in time.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Man Who Knew Infinity has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The war scenes are fairly mild, but some scenes show injured soldiers in a temporary hospital with bandages and also being carried on stretchers.
- Ramanujan becomes very sick with tuberculosis. He has dark circles under his eyes.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- 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. These scenes also show bloody bandages.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, Ramanujan dies in India at the age of 32. His funeral pyre is shown, but not his body. Some children might find this upsetting.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
The Man Who Knew Infinity has some sexual references. For example:
- Ramanujan marries a girl called Janaki at a young age. He says he’ll sleep on the floor. She tells him he should sleep in the bed with her.
- Ramanujan and Janaki kiss.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Man Who Knew Infinity shows some use of substances. For example:
- Hardy smokes cigarettes and a pipe throughout the movie.
- Adults drink socially.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
None of concern
The Man Who Knew Infinity has some coarse language, as well as racist taunts directed at Ramanujan.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Man Who Knew Infinity is a biographical drama about the life of the famous mathematician Ramanujan. The movie also documents the open racism of the early 20th century. It’s interesting to see the historical contrast between life in Madras (now Chennai) and life at Cambridge University.
There’s some fairly mild violence in this movie, which could upset younger children, as could the movie’s themes of racism and fatal illness. The movie probably lacks interest for most children under 13 years and is more suited to older children, teenagers and adults.
The main messages from this movie are to persevere with what you know to be true and not to give up in the face of adversity.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include determination, persistence and resilience. You could also discuss the racism shown in the movie.