Prodigies are usually young. But how young is too young, when you are solving Schrodinger's equation and reading Aristotle? Watch these five films about child genii, who redefine the parameters of age
A still from Big Hero 6
Children are expected to slowly be initiated into the process of learning and co-curriculars, before becoming proficient in it, due to years of practice. But what about those miraculous children, who are winning championships and Olympiads before finishing junior school? Well, they too have their fair share of fights to be won and lessons to be learned. If you know someone like that, or simply enjoy the intellect of a child genius, then these five films are perfect for you.
This 2017 drama features a stellar cast comprising Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, and Octavia Spencer. It traces the story of math prodigy Mary Adler, who is seven years old and can solve difficult college math with considerable ease. However, her genius also proves to be a hurdle, by inviting unnecessary stress and pressure from her tyrannical grandmother, who drove Mary’s mother, Dianne, into committing suicide. Thankfully, Mary has a highly intelligent maternal uncle cum guardian Frank to look after her, but even that begins to fall apart when her estranged grandmother learns of her skills.
Big Hero 6
This 2014 Disney production is a highly underrated animated masterpiece. It follows the story of young teen Hiro Hamada, who spends all his time competing in robot fights. Despite being a robotics prodigy, Hiro realizes his potential too late. His mentor, college-going brother Tadashi dies in a freak accident at his Uni’s robotic showcase while trying to save his professor, leaving behind the healthcare robot Baymax and his college friends, for his younger sibling. But what happens when you mix vengeance, robots, and stolen microbots? The frolicking adventure that is the film Big Hero 6.
Releasing as A Brilliant Young Mind in the US, X+Y is a British drama starring Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, and Jo Yang. The 2014 film follows an autistic math prodigy, Nathan, who finds it difficult to survive after his father’s death, who was the only one who could connect with him. Living with his mother, whom he treats with a cool yet respectful distance, the film is all about Nathan’s attempt to overcome his fears, anxieties, and insecurities, while he tries to win the International Mathematical Olympiad.
Queen of Katwe
This 2016 biographical sports film, directed by the renowned Mira Nair, stars Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong’o, and David Oyelowo in the leading roles. This poignant and stirring film traces the journey of chess prodigy Phiona, who resides in a Ugandan slum. Impoverished and only ten, she helps her mother sell maize in the market and looks after her baby brother as well. It is when she begins learning chess at a missionary program and decides to take charge of her own fate, that the real struggle begins.
Though this film has recently been adapted into a delightful musical, the original film remains timeless, especially because of the beguiling gaze of a young Mara Wilson as Matilda. Also starring the likes of Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, and Pam Ferris, the film’s story is based on Roald Dahl’s titular novel. It follows the story of a highly intelligent child, Matilda, who learns to take care of herself and teach herself to read and write, simply by sheer willpower. Being a prodigy, she gobbles up book after book, whether it is Marx or Tolstoy, till she faces resistance in the form of her tyrannical and unethical family, and later, school Principal. Thankfully, young Matilda’s wonderful brain can also execute psychokinetic abilities, when necessary.