Modena   24/10/2005 - 29/10/2005

Auditorium dell’ITIS F. Corni - via Leonardo da Vinci, 300 - Modena

Numbers: the universal language

  1. Original Title: L'empire des nombres
  2. Author: Denis Guedj
  3. Director: Philippe Truffault
  4. Editor: François Labat
  5. Photography: Gérard Figuerola
  6. Music: Guy Skornik et Zab
  7. Producer: Jean-Pierre Gibrat
  8. Production: Arté Film/Trans Europe, Film/Gallimard/CNRS
  9. France
  10. 52 min.
  11. 2001

Even if we sometimes do not trust them, today numbers are taken for granted - a part of our everyday life. However, very few people know that they are the end product of a long process of abstract throught that has taken place over the centuries. This film shows the key milestones of that genesis. How did man learn to count? How and why has man used numbers, from the Paleolithic up to the present? Tracing the history of numbers since their original inception has been an almost lifelong task for Denis Guedj. Through this great historical and intellectual undertaking, this film - based on a novel of the same name by Guedj himself - shows that the history of numbers is closely associated to the history of mankind. Guedj's compelling narrating voice leverages some key passages and above all the spirit of his book to tell the fascinating story of numbers and numbering. The history of numbers - 1, 2, numeric systems, zero, all the way down to infinity - sounds like a poem. On screen, stolen glances, mysterious shapes and objects fluctuate and flow together with the historical narration, enticing the audience and getting it fully involved in this millennium-long quest. The approach to numbers, properties and operations suggested in the film is quite simple and might prove equally effective when applied to the understanding of language through a better historical knowledge of the words and letters that make it up.

Prize winner at the VII Research Film Festival - Nancy.

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