The Fifth day: Colors of Math
The only Russian film of the Basic program of the Festival has got there right from the Documentary Film Competition of the Moscow International Film Festival. It’s only fitting that Ekaterina Eremenko who had graduated from the faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics at the MSU and the specialized class of physics and mathematics at the school 91 before the Gerasimov Cinematography institute made a film about mathematicians. In the film science is represented by 6 leading world scientists who convert numbers into senses and back and find the formulas for feelings. One sense is for each character: Cedric Villani from Switzerland compares mathematical equations to cooking (sense of taste), professor Jean-Michel Bismut from Paris tells about “music of thinking” and remembers the solution to one of the theorems has occurred to him while listening to Vagner literally with the final kettledrums (sense of hearing). Aaditya Rangan, the assistant professor at the Courant Institute of New York University is looking for a formula of smell guessing how the drosophilae flies detect the smell of rotten fruits (sense of smell). Anatoliy Fomenko sees solid beauty of geometry everywhere around (sense of vision), Gunter Wigler searches for the optimal way to fill the space with tetrahedrons (sense of touch). In the end Maksim Koncevitch, the winner of the Fields Medal award, kicks fall foliage, reads a holly leaf trying to unravel the secret of real numbers and speaks of the sixth sense – sense of balance. Simultaneously director Eremnko sets herself not the easier task: to peep into mathematicians’ mind. The camera captures Cedric Villani sketchily plays some tune with his hands having taken his shoes off and beating time under the table while waiting for an order in a tavern. The camera stands still capturing geometrical figures Fomenko is looking at: honeycombs, ideal spiral staircase – the helicoid. Adi Rangan is walking through New-York with a baby in carrier and we follow the baby’s look watching night lights and wires. Bismut when strolling around Paris stops at the dancing class window where the couples are slowly learning salsa and tells he pondered over how slowly they move at a similar window in New-York and felt an overwhelming desire to push somebody. Camera work is in some excess here, there is constant play of angles, camera tries to take an affected position all the time, to drive out from somewhere down or aside. Pavel Kostomarov, one of the best cameramen of the new Russian wave who shot “Simple things”, “Stroll”, “How I spent this summer” is responsible for camera work here. And he seems to add too much artistry to the film. It starts to seem Eremenko watches her characters from a set aside view and it looks as if she plays with them. But in fact it’s on the contrary: director tries to bring math close to our every-day experience. To show it’s everywhere: on the streets, in cafes, subway. One of the documentary films by Eremnko the most of us will never see is called “My class”. There she tells about each of her classmates’ fate interrupting the stories with physical experiments demonstrations. This sense of science and life being so close to each other is certainly reared in children. But at the same time it’s common for us, Soviet people, from these recent times when scientists used to live among us.