“Pi” is a 1998 American psychological thriller film about a mathematician obsessed with a strange idea like numerology. Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. His feature directorial debut. Black & white. 84 minutes.
Unemployed number theorist Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) lives in an apartment in Chinatown, Manhattan. He does research into stock price prediction based on chaos theory with his self-built computer called “Euclid” every day, suffering from headaches, paranoia, and hallucinations.
He tries to find the pattern of stock price fluctuations in the marketplace based on the three assumptions:
One: Mathematics is the language of nature.
Two: Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers.
Three: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature.
One day, Euclid calculates an inconceivable prediction, spits out a 216-digit number, and then crashes. Finding that the prediction comes true, he becomes obsessed with the 216-digit number because it seems to represent a unifying pattern that determines everything in nature.
But meanwhile, he finds himself chased by the agents of a Wall Street investment firm, who try to use Max for their benefit, and a group of Jewish mysticism (cabalism), who thinks that the 216-digit number represents the name of God.
The film is characterized by its high-contrast, rough-grained images filmed on black-and-white reversal film, and fast cutting of consecutive, extremely brief shots (hip hop montage).
The style of the film is similar to David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (1977) and Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” (1989).
The soundtrack consists of techno/electronica tracks, such as trip hop, drum ‘n’ bass, ambient, and IDM (intelligent dance music). Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, Orbital, Autechre and other artists contributed their tracks.
The three tracks including the opening theme “πr²” are the originals by Clint Mansell (formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself).
At the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, which is the largest independent film festival in the United States, Aronofsky won the Best Director award for this film.