Pi (1999) – Darren Aronofsky


The 101 Sci-Fi Movies brings another mess with your mind film, this time from Darren Aronofsky. Shot in a gritty black and white, subjective style, the film follows a brilliant mathematician, Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) as he becomes obsessed with tracking down the pattern of the universe.

He’s convinced that the entire realm of existence can be represented by numbers and that all numbers follow patterns, therefore the universe must follow a fixed pattern.

He’s converted his entire apartment, except for his bathroom, and a tiny corner for his bed, into space for his computer, Euclid, which is helping him hunt down this hidden key to the universe.


When Euclid crashes right before printing out a massive number, ¬†Max seeks the help and advice of his old teacher and mentor, Sol (Mark Margolis), who advises him that maybe he just needs to relax, unwind, step away for a while. Max feels he’s close to a breakthrough though, and asks after a 216 digit number Sol came across while researching Pi.

Later in a coffee shop he meets Lenny, a Hasidic Jew, who is working with the Torah, and seeking a number in it, a 216 digit number. Max sees ties between that and the Fibonacci sequence, popularly known as the Golden Spiral (research that as it relates to nature – wow).

Making a deal with a collection of suits who offer him a super-chip for his crashed computer, unaware that they too are seeking this number for their own reasons, Max goes to work, battling a bug infestation in his apartment, killer migraines, and the revelation about what this number may actually be.

The film is an engaging watch, and since we’re watching everything from Max’s view, it’s not quite apparent how much of what he’s experiencing is real, or could be caused by his splintered view of the world around him, as well as the medication he is taking.

Still, when he discovers the number, things really get wild as everyone around him seems to want what he has for their own agenda. Whether it is the key to sentience, the true name of god, or a way to control a crashing economy.


I personally love when you can take science and math, and combine them with things like faith and religion and look at it in a whole new way, which happens with Max’s encounters with the Hasidic group.

But with tons of people pursuing the number in his head, and as Max starts to realize what it is, he’s left with few options…

The film is dark, edgy and gritty. Being shot in black and white, it stands out from most other modern films, and holds the attention, even if you’re not a mathlete.

Aronofsky’s films aren’t for everyone, but I tend to think he’s a great director, and while a lot of folks call Requiem For A Dream their fave of his films, I actually have to go with The Fountain. I quite enjoyed that one.

How about you? Did you see this one?


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