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Pi

3.3 out of 5 stars 945 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Pi is a science fiction thriller about the haunting journey into the genius mind of renegade mathematician Maximillian Cohen (Gullette). Max is on the verge of the most important discovery of his life. For the past ten years, he has been attempting to decode the numerical pattern beneath the ultimate system of ordered chaos, the stock market. Pursued by an aggrressive Wall Street firm set on financial domination and by Jewish Kabbalists intent on unlocking the secrets behind their holy texts, Max races to crack the code, hoping to defy the madness that looms before him.

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes montage
  • Lost scenes
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Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart, Stephen Pearlman
  • Directors: Darren Aronofsky
  • Writers: Sean Gullette, Darren Aronofsky, Eric Watson
  • Producers: David Godbout, Eric Watson, Jonah Smith, Katie King
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 1999
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (945 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 078401213X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,497 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pi" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It is a remarkable surprise that, in a time of science fiction and fantasy films which continually strive do outdo each other in pyrotechnics, one of the best science fiction films I've seen is a little black & white masterpiece that was shot with a $60,000 budget. Darren Aronofsky, writer and director of 'PI', has created a film that is every bit as engaging as its 'big' brothers - in reality, even more so.
Mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is on a quest. He is convinced that underlying the chaos of the stock market is a pristine order, a mathematical rule with which he can prove that everything can be reduced to numbers. His mentor and teacher is Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis), who was forced to give up his own investigations into PI when he suffered a mysterious stroke.
Cohen's investigation takes him far beyond the gyrations of the stock market into the mystical Kaballah and an intense questioning of the basic nature of reality. His tool for this journey is the silent, inanimate computer, Euclid, who seems to deconstruct Cohen's universe further with each strike of the return key. Even when Robeson urges Cohen to take a break from a quest which is clearly destroying the mathematician, torturing him with horrific headaches and hallucinations, Max is unable to stop. He is drawn step by step into the irrevocable gap between the sacred and the mundane.
Made with reversal film which heightens the contrast between light and dark, the film provides a continuous flow of symbolic content which plays in harmony with the world of ideas from with it is drawn. Ants and electric drills, computer chips and the swirls of cream in a cup of coffee all seem to have otherworldly referents.
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Pi is one of the better independent low-budget films I've seen in the last couple of years. It's a strange, twisted, subversive film, which takes as its thesis the idea that it's possible to know too much, to ask too many questions, for one's own good. A good example is the troubled protagonist of Pi, played to chilling perfection by Sean Gullette, who struggles with both the outside world and himself in his quest for the ultimate knowledge -- an equation which will tie together everything, from the beginnings of the universe to the chaotic ups and downs of the stock market. He is spied upon by unnamed big business interests, hoping to cash in on the latter idea; he is spied upon by Hasidic Jews who hope to cash in on the former idea; both sets of spies add the perfect element of paranoia to the film, and convince you that there is far more going on here than meets the eye, far more going on than is being talked about. The ideas put forth in later scenes bear this out -- boy, do they! -- but I wouldn't want to spoil that for you. The events of Pi, especially in the later scenes, are so surprising that any discussion of the plot would be totally unfair -- like telling someone who hasn't seen Citizen Kane what Rosebud is. So instead I'll confine myself to theme and character, which are sort of intertwined in this film. Gullette's character is a genius mathematician (as you might expect), a child prodigy of sorts who has always, we are told by his narration, courted such dangerous ideas and notions...and has paid the price for his arrogance more than once. He suffers from migranes -- really serious, agonizing ones which give him nosebleeds and vicious hallucinations, and which no painkillers seem able to stop or tame.Read more ›
1 Comment 47 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Notes for the bewildered:
1. Pi is NOT about the number pi (I'm not sure some of these reviewers even watched the film);
2. Accusations that the film is more about numerology than mathematics miss the point by a mile, i.e. there is a vital scene in which the main character is plainly warned that his obsessive pattern search will lead him into the non-science desert of numerology;
3. Max's search for the 216 digit name of God is not a simple descent into mystical hooey: his investigation of the Torah, like the stock market, is a search for an underlying pattern in a chaotic system. He is intrigued by the possibility of arriving at a fundamental insight into the universe by this discovery. Ultimately his fallacy is not the assumption that this pattern exists, but his presumption that his brain could encompass the entire world.
Enough philosophy - the black and white photography is stark and unsettling, the minor characters are memorable (Lenny and Sol are standouts), the soundtrack is refreshingly modern and engaging without being obtrusive, and the whole is laden with a creepy atmosphere of cold cerebral obsession (this quality probably being the main reason people either love or hate this film).
Reasons for some dissatisfaction might include the hallucination sequences being only vaguely delineated from the rest of the narrative, which causes some confusion, and the discontinuity of the plot, in which story and character are artfully sketched rather than fully filled out.
The ending is also problematic, but it is unsatisfying only in as much as total comprehension of the universe by the human mind is an impossible dream. It is this intellectual tantalization which is, I believe, the point of the film.
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