Pi (movie)

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Template:Infobox Movie

The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. The correct title is π (movie).

π is a 1998 American film directed by Darren Aronofsky. The title, π, is the lowercase 16th letter in the Greek alphabet and is pronounced "pi" like pie.



π was filmed on black-and-white reversal film and stars Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart, Stephen Pearlman, and Samia Shoaib.

π had an extremely low budget ($60,000), but proved a financial success at the box office ($3.2 million gross in the U.S.) despite only a limited release to theaters. Darren Aronofsky made the movie Requiem for a Dream after π.


The film is about a mathematician, Maximillian Cohen, who believes that everything in nature can be understood through numbers. Utilizing the stock market as his data set, Max tries to uncover patterns in the stock market with the assistance of his computer Euclid. Max is plagued with migraine headaches that cause him to periodically blackout. He also suffers from extreme paranoia and some form of social anxiety disorder. As the movie progresses, he begins to believe that he has found the key to understanding the universe, but as he closes in on the answer, it turns out that his paranoia is justified (or depending on your interpretation, that his paranoid delusions have manifested themselves in visual and auditory hallucinations). A number of mysterious people become interested in his research, including a woman from a Wall Street firm with access to powerful new computer hardware, and a group of kabbalistic Jews who believe that the Torah, when represented as numbers instead of letters, contains the true name of God, an example of a bible code.

The Game of "GO"

In the film, Max periodicly plays an ancient Japanese game called go with his mentor. This game, now very popular particularly among mathamaticians, features possibly the simplest rules of any game, yet provides greater challenges than chess: a fact proven by the lack of computer technology that can play a truly good game of go. Go is a territorial game that was once used to train Samurai battlefield strategy.

Mathematics and pi

While the film's characters make several mathematical "goofs", such as claiming that the kabbalists could recite the phonetic equivalents of all 216-digit numbers in only two thousand years, it is notable that Sean Gullette's character, Max, pursues a legitimate scientific goal (though through questionable "scientific" means). As such, π features several references to mathematics and mathematical theories. For instance, Max finds the golden spiral occurring everywhere, including the stock market. Max's belief that diverse systems embodying highly nonlinear dynamics share a unifying pattern bears much similarity to results in chaos theory, which provides machinery for describing certain phenomena of nonlinear systems, which might be thought of as patterns. Note that, unlike in the movie, chaos theory does not allow one to predict the exact behavior of a chaotic system like the stock market and, in fact, provides compelling evidence that such predictions are, in principle, impossible.


π launched the film scoring career of Clint Mansell.

Track List:

  1. πr - Clint Mansell
  2. P.E.T.R.O.L. - Orbital
  3. Kalpol Intro - Autechre
  4. Bucephalus Bouncing Ball - Aphex Twin
  5. Watching Windows [Ed Rush & Optical Remix] - Roni Size
  6. Angel - Massive Attack
  7. We Got the Gun - Clint Mansell
  8. No Man's Land - David Holmes
  9. Anthem - Gus Gus
  10. Drippy - Banco de Gaia
  11. Third from the Sun - Psilonaut
  12. Low Frequency Inversion Field - Spacetime Continuum
  13. 2πr - Clint Mansell


  • "1. Mathematics is the language of nature. 2. Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. 3. If you graph these numbers, patterns emerge. Therefore: There are patterns everywhere in nature."
  • "But Max, as soon as you discard scientific rigor, you are no longer a mathematician. You become a numerologist."
  • "It's not the number! It's the meaning. It's the syntax. It's what's between the numbers."
  • "I'm not interested in your money. I'm searching for a way to understand our world."
  • "Failed treatments to date: Beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, adrenalin injections, high dose ibuprofen, steroids, trigger matastics, violent exercise, cafergot suppositories, caffeine, acupuncture, marijuana, percodan, midrin, tenormin, sansert, homeopathics. No results."
  • "It's survival of the fittest, Max, and we've got the fucking gun."
  • "12:50, press return."
  • "9:13, personal note. When I was a little kid, my mother told me not to stare into the sun. So once when I was six I did. The doctors didn't know if my eyes would ever heal. I was terrified, alone in that darkness. Slowly, daylight crept in through the bandages, and I could see. But something else had changed inside me. That day I had my first headache."

See also

  • π (the mathematical constant),
  • π (the Greek letter).

External links

fr:Π (film) nl:Pi (film)


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