• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:June 6, 2022

The Professor and the Madman


Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. Photo: Vertical Entertainment

In 1872, James Murray (Mel Gibson) begins work on the first Oxford dictionary; one of the men whose help he enlists is an American Civil War veteran (Sean Penn) who’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Screenwriter Farhad Safinia’s directing debut became a disappointment for him and Gibson, who got drawn into a legal fight with the studio. It remains unclear what they would have done differently had they retained control. As it is, the drama holds up pretty well, even if its emotional aspects never reach the intended heights. Good performances by the two leads.

2019-U.S. 124 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Farhad Safinia. Screenplay: Todd Komarnicki, Farhad Safinia. Book: Simon Winchester (”The Surgeon of Crowthorne”). Cast: Mel Gibson (James Murray), Sean Penn (William Chester Minor), Natalie Dormer (Eliza Merrett), Eddie Marsan, Jennifer Ehle, Jeremy Irvine… Ioan Gruffudd, Stephen Dillane, Steve Coogan.

Trivia: Filmed in 2016. Safinia took his name off the credits, using the pseudonym P.B. Shemran. 

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