If You Love Words, You May Like This Book and Movie

The Professor and the Madman is a strange 2019 film, based on the 1998 book by Simon Winchester, about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. It tells how a professor, James Murray, in 1879 began compiling the Oxford English Dictionary and led the overseeing committee, and how W. C. Minor, a doctor, submitted over 10,000 entries while he was undergoing treatment at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

The movie cost $25 million to make, got lukewarm reviews, and grossed only $5.4 million in the U.S., though it did better in England.

But it does tell the important story of how James Murray, bedeviled at every step by the deans at Oxford, created the first definitive dictionary—12 volumes and a one-volume supplement—of the English language.

And it does give Mel Gibson, best known for movies like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, a solid character to play, while Sean Penn, who won Oscars for his roles in Mystic River and Milk, is at his craziest as he helps Murray compile the great dictionary.

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