Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mathematicians figure out what makes movies popular!

Well, maybe that headline is a bit of an overhyping. But the following showed up in one of my RSS feeds this morning:

Movie buff mathematicians crack classic cinema code

The history of cinema is littered with classic lines and images, and now a team of mathematicians in the United States has figured how a few memorable moments can turn ordinary flims into masterpieces. They've crunched the numbers of how often films are referenced in, or inspire, later movies. And their sums show the most frequently quoted movies often become the most critically aclaimed.

The story is reported by Australia's Radio National. There's a transcript of the story here. Or, if you want to hear the story, complete with movie clips, you can download it here; the audio file is about four minutes long and 1.9MB.

Personally, I'm not so certain I agree with the methodology, or the conclusions. There are a lot of movies that aren't critically acclaimed, like Plan 9 From Outer Space, that have also become cultural icons precisely because they're so awful. But it's an interesting idea.

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