Don’t let the title confuse you, The Professor & The Madman is an amazing, historical, period drama based on the 1998 book `The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ by Simon Winchester.
This character-driven tale is spiced with murder and punishment, atonement and redemption, determination and perseverance, friendship and betrayal, compassion and acclaim.
Although it has a slowly pace it wastes no time detailing the incredibly unlikely collaboration between the absolutely oddly matched editor of Oxford dictionary the autodidact James Murray (The Professor) and the ex-US Civil War surgeon and Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum patient William Chester Minor (The Madman)
In their own way, both men have to come to terms with their (to say the least) personal obstacles to enable them to fulfil their personal yet linked destinies.
Murray (Mel Gibson who once again channels his inner Scotsman) constantly encounters interrogation from the pompous faculty of academia in order to maintain his position of collating the dictionary.
Minor (Sean Penn, who deserves an award for this role) has his own demons haunting his nightmares and struggles to come to terms with the sorrow and devastation left from his senseless, murderous crime.
After 20 years of debating and rewriting the dictionary in 1872, the University reluctantly appoints Murray the daunting task of completing their unfinished dictionary.
Murray wastes no time sending out a call to the entire English speaking world to contribute words and definitions to help him and his small team complete their task.
This is where Minor comes to Murray’s aid by contributing an excess of 10,000 words and definitions from his confinement in.
Penn is excellent as the deeply troubled madman who tries and eventually succeeds in finding some forgiveness for his crime from the wife and family of his victim.
This story has two superb leading characters with Gibson and Penn (who both bear a striking resemblance to the real characters) never overshadowing each other as they tell this extraordinary tale.
I could not resist the temptation to Google the characters and was pleasantly surprised to find how close to the real story this amazing saga comes.
I assume you already know the ending that the dictionary was eventually finished, but what you might not know is that it took 70 years to do so.
Strangely enough, I feel the fewer words I use the more you will enjoy the film.
Unfortunately due to production and directorial disputes and perhaps a few bad reviews from the high brow critic club, it is suffering a limited cinema release.
If you are after an intelligent story told in a captivating manner then this is certain to please.
I enjoyed every syllable
Concept Photo Design (c) 2020 BY Beata Gombas