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Behind the Scenes: Visual Motifs

Play VideoWe decided that portions of his life would be better represented by photographs and stock footage of his early childhood, his time in Princeton, his time at M.I.T. We had documentation of that but we wanted to find a way to re-create or capture the experiential aspects of schizophrenia, through the interviews that we had done and things in the book -- describing some of the symptoms and some of Dr. Nash's delusions as he descended into his illness, and when he was in the throes of his illness, what was happening.

We wanted to find ways to visually capture that, and so there were certain things -- at M.I.T. he started noticing -- men wearing red neck ties -- and it seems to take on a greater significance to him. We wanted to visualize what that would be and when working with our cinematographer Peter Donahue, he did a wonderful job providing us with a really spontaneous and creative look at this material.

We really went out and wanted to in capture a lot of different things that would include people with red ties. We went to MIT and shot there at the university but in ways that would not be typical of seeing the university. We didn't know how it would have been cut together but in the editing process, it's really a wonderful distortion on reality and that was really what we were trying to do with the visuals. And through a variety of techniques: of obscuring things, playing around with focus, shooting through foreground objects. We actually brought a door that had a slit in it, with reinforced glass, and we would shoot though to try and give a sense of somebody in the mental institution looking out of a room of confinement. And so there were ways of placing objects in unexpected places and that was some of the ideas that we had in terms of trying to capture this more delusional part of his life.





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