Though it is the demise of many who write, the importance of the Oxford English Dictionary cannot be overlooked. The full compilation of words and definitions is a work of pure genius - one that carries a unique story along with it.
Based on Simon Winchester’s best-selling novel, The Professor and the Madman tells the story of Professor James Murray (Mel Gibson), the man who took on the insane challenge to compile the most comprehensive dictionary ever. Knowing that it would take him centuries, he began to outsource the work to those around the world. When it became known that a single man, Dr. W.C. Minor (Sean Penn), had submitted over 10,000 words to the overseeing committee, they wanted to honor him. They didn’t realize that Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was a convicted murderer being held at an asylum for the criminally insane.
The film’s debut trailer is a tale of two halves. In the beginning, we get a frantic display of heightened intensity as we see the crime, the conviction, and the pressure that comes with taking on a project of this size. But then Murray and Minor meet, taking with it the intensity and leaving us with a montage backed by lethargic, almost inspirational music.
The end result is a semi-mixed bag. The film looks interesting, but just how much is left after showcasing the majority of the plot? We’ll have our answer when the Farhad Safinia directed film hits theaters on May 10.