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The Professor and The Madman

 (645)
7.22 h 4 min2019X-RayUHD15
Professor James Murray begins work compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid 19th century and receives over 10,000 entries from a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr. William Minor.
Directors
P.B. Shemran
Starring
Mel GibsonSean Penn
Genres
Drama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio Languages
English

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Producers
Nicolas ChartierGaston Pavlovich
Studio
Voltage PicturesFÁBRICA DE CINEDefinition Films22H22Caviar Antwerp
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesmokingviolence
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Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

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Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

645 global ratings

  1. 86% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 8% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Mark BarryReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
"...Fly...On The Wings Of Words..." - The Professor And The Madman on BLU RAY
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As you sit through the engaging real-life-story movie that is "The Professor And The Madman" - you might well think - where was this fabulous film in the 2020 Oscars? Why was the entire world told that fatuous tut like Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" was worthy of our attention or even an Oscar for Brad Pitt? There are just so many choice roles in "The Professor And The Madman" that on any other year, it would have been garnished with nominations galore. Is it that in Hollywood, Mel Gibson is still a persona non grata? Well, be that as it may, this is without question the Australian actor and director's most accomplished work in decades...

Shot in Ireland and especially the older parts of Dublin (the truly gorgeous library inside Trinity College is featured to fabulous effect), I suspect that for many viewers, this beautifully realized movie is coming out of left field. Few have heard of it, let alone went to see it in a cinema. Based on a true story - principled Scotsman and Professorial multi-lingual scholar James Murray (Mel Gibson) is charged with forming an English Language Dictionary chronicling every word along with its history, meaning and literature reference - a task that has defeated snooty Oxford and Cambridge dons for decades - possibly even driven some of them stark raving mad.

But James Murray is different. He has armour and secret weapons. His wife Ada is his rock and their many children fill James with wonder, strength and even purpose (Ada is beautifully played by Jennifer Ehle of Pride and Prejudice TV Series fame). Murray is also in love with language and words to the point where he feels they may even be a route to the divine, love and that most difficult of all emotions in the mid 19th century - forgiveness.

Used on one third of the earth as a 'mother tongue' - Murray goes at the impossible task of finding and defining 'every' word and permeation of the English language with aid from his team of researchers led by Henry Bradley (Iain Gruffudd). But it soon becomes obvious why others have been driven to tears with such a task - smashed up every time against the rocks of 'proof' for even the simplest of words like 'art' or 'approved' - and that's just the 'A's'. But help comes from an unlikely source and a parallel story.

Possessed of a demon-infested and yet brilliant mind, Dr. William Minor is also drawn to the healing of literature. But while he was once a respected surgeon in the American Civil War, conflict and actions he was forced into (maiming a soldier deemed to be a deserter) have left his mind shattered to the point where in a frenzy of voices and illusions - he shoots dead a young man called Everett. This has left his young wife Eliza and her five children to destitution (Natalie Dormer excelling in a genuinely great part for the Games Of Thrones star). Dr. Minor (a seriously brilliant Sean Penn) is easily convicted and sent to prison – Eliza Everett initially glad to see him suffer.

Inside the correctional facility/lunatic asylum for the criminally insane that is Broadmoor in Berkshire, he meets Dr. Richard Brayn - a caring physician played by the stunning Stephan Dillane - also of Games Of Thrones and cruelly robbed of an Oscar for his exceptional work in the Churchill film "Darkest Hour". Determined to methodically help inmates rather than let them rot in cells, Dr. Brayn gives the mad but clearly intelligent American leeway that may indeed lead to his salvation – space, paper and books. And after a letter is found inside a book that has called on the entire English-speaking world to supply words and their meanings, the strange relationship with the Scottish Professor James Murray and the convicted-of-murder American Civil War surgeon William Minor begins – over an English Dictionary.

Both Gibson and Penn are magnificent in this movie - not just good - but towering. Throw in the genuinely awesome humanity that Eddie Marsan of "Ray Donovan" fame brings to everything that he does (Eddie plays a guard called Mr. Muncie who takes pity on the madman and is instrumental as a liason) and a fantastically good Steve Coogan as an establishment friend to James Murray who can oil and circumnavigate the cogs of Oxford snoots malicious and vindictive towards the Scotsman (Anthony Edwards and Laurence Fox leading the doubters) - and you get an inkling of the kind of quality ensemble cast that is on offer here. There are at least six or seven more names I could mention...

Good as they all are though, the cast excels because the story and the writing that depicts this unusual tale is simply beautiful - a gorgeous script by Director Farhad Safina (credited as P.B. Shemran) and Todd Komarnicki (Safina wrote large swathes of both seasons to a Kelsey Grammer Mayor-of-Chicago TV Series I loved called "Boss"). Based on a 1998 book by Simon Winchester called "The Surgeon Of Crowthorne", the 2019 film "The Professor And The Madman" has heart and compassion and delights in language and its power to diffuse and even heal. And on it goes to the credits where photographs and historical details give further insight into these odd but earnest men and their achievements – Bear McCreary’s music lifting proceedings all the way to the end.

I loved "The Professor And The Madman" and I suspect many others will too. As the damaged man, Dr. Minor says, "...I can fly out of here...on the wings of words..." Good advice, I think. A really, really good movie and well done to all involved...
135 people found this helpful
FlymoReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 March 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Outstanding and Engaging
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Well worth the time spent watching an enjoyable well written film and certainly worth watching. It is amazing that there could be a difference of opinion in the reviews, well for at least 2, "Meeme" and "Happy Gilmore', who it appears so a very different film to me. 'Meeme' must have been asleep for more than 10 minutes because he/she makes comments so off the mark it's hard to fathom where they find any enjoyment of what is good acting, good story and a great film. Meeme asks 'Why is he leaving his wife and family behind?' (he didn't, that is Mrs Murray went with him) Why don't they go with him (they did). There's no affection, yet somehow we're supposed to believe they love each other. Why? (Victorian life was devoid of such outward displays, surely that is known) She has no personality or spark and he's never home (he works in a room purpose built in the grounds of the home-recall he gave the coin to his daughter at the breaking of the ground?). The single mother prostituting herself out is a puzzle through most of the movie (sadly that was and in some societies, still is the case, no welfare state then).
34 people found this helpful
Jo, LondonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 March 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Based on a true story.
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This was a captivating, thought provoking, inspiring, beautifully written and superbly acted film. Fantastic performances from Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, with great supporting roles from notable names like Jennifer Ehle, Anthony Andrews, Steve Coogan, Laurence Fox, Ioan Gruffud etc etc - The stories of the two lead characters, are carefully crafted as they run parallel to one another, before becoming intricately and unexpectedly linked. It is a fascinating account with an intelligent and poetic dialogue throughout. It is gripping, emotional and visceral. This is a film that I will definitely be returning to for a second viewing in the future, which is rare for me, and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.
28 people found this helpful
szymon b.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 March 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Unlike most of the popular.
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Great movie. It is refreshing in the storytelling that doesn't need all those expensive tricks that the modern cinema want's us to synonymize with enterntainment. I miss movies like this, directors, writers and camera work like this. Unlike most movies available in cinemas of late, this has been done with maturity and not driven by egotistical and narcissistic. Well done. Well worth the time, the consideration. Moving. No cheap thrills, just gripping humanism and a show of what acting used to be about. Thank you.
29 people found this helpful
GJLealeReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 March 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
An extraordinary story we owe a huge gratitude for.
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One of the most extraordinary stories in real life with an incredible outcome which has benefitted generations. It is not just the unlikely process of compiling the dictionary but the mysteries thrown up with it. What is madness, what is love, what is the test of forgiveness and much much more. I cant believe this film didn't feature on the Oscars -maybe it was outside the time criteria for consideration or perhaps it is too good for Hollywood? Or perhaps madness and greatness in one package where awful deeds cannot be polarised against saintly ones and the good guy wins is too close to the bone. If I could give this more stars I would! Life is stranger than fiction and where Hollywood creates pictures to substitute a thousand words, the words in this picture are the star. Not everyone can create compelling pictures but we all use words.
21 people found this helpful
YvonneBReviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 March 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful film showing friendship and a love of words
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This was such a brilliant film that is based on the true story of the Oxford Dictionary. Mel Gibson as the academic behind the cataloguing of all the words in the English Language. The job is a mammoth one and it is made easier by the appearance words from a patient in Broadmoor lunatic asylum played by Sean Penn. Both actors were great, Penn however, in my opinion, was exceptional in his portrayal.

The pair build a bond over words and a friendship is gradually built. Politics of the day from other academics have a part to play in this story as well as one of forgiveness. This is a wonderful film that I adored, a historical fiction based on fact. It is a film I would definitely recommend watching.
16 people found this helpful
BewBobReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 April 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A surprisingly good result from such a troubled production
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A strong cast (Gibson, Penn, Steve Coogan, Eddie Marsan and a cast of well known british actors.)
It's a fascinating story - the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, that was beset with troubles: running out of money, a refusal for reshoots/ shooting in Oxford which led to law suits and Gibson decrying the film he spent 17 years trying to get made and trying to get it shelved.
Despite that, taking it on its own merit it's not at all bad. Gibson returns to his Scottish accent efforts, and does well enough, Penn is his usual emersed self as the American doctor suffering PTSD committed to an asylum after a psychotic episode, who becomes Gibson's unlikely allie in putting together one of the most ambitious tasks in academic history.
Trinity College may have doubled for Oxford, but unless you're really looking for it, then it doesn't distract from the story. If the delegate board of OUP are somewhat stereotypical rotters, then that's par for the course.
Overall, a surprisingly strong effort.
8 people found this helpful
thatwinningsmileReviewed in the United Kingdom on 08 April 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Superb and engaging film
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True to life portrayal of Mr. James Murray (played by Mel Gibson) who compiled the first Oxford Dictionary. It was, undoubtedly a gigantic and daunting undertaking that could not have been completed without the assistance of an American Lunatic, William Chester Minor (played by Sean Penn) who contributed 10,000 words to the Dictionary. The forging of their friendship is a truly inspirational highlight of the movie, where both men appreciate the intellect of each other. William Chester Minor was a trained Doctor as well. The movie perfectly captures the essence of the time highlighting, the cruel and contemptuous treatment meted out towards Minor and it also shows the difficulties that Murray has to overcome true.

Gibson and Penn both provide their best performances in years and they are ably supported by a brilliant supporting cast including Jennifer Ehle and Steve Coogan. This is Oscar material, and if it has been overlooked by the 'Academy', then it's one of the biggest travesties going. A definite must-watch.
5 people found this helpful
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