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The Professor and the Madman

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Videos & Photos

  • Official Trailer

Movie Info & Cast


Based on the worldwide best-selling novel by Simon Winchester, THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN is an extraordinary true tale of madness, genius, and obsession about two remarkable men who created history with the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary. The compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857 and was one of the most ambitious, and revolutionary projects ever undertaken. Professor James Murray (Mel Gibson) took on the challenge of creating the most comprehensive dictionary ever compiled, but knew that it would take him and his team over a century to compile all known definitions. However, by crowd sourcing the work, that is, by enlisting definitions from people all over the world, the dictionary could be compiled in mere decades. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor (Sean Penn), had submitted more than ten thousand words. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was a convicted murderer and being held at an asylum for the criminally insane.


  • Natalie Dormer
  • Mel Gibson
  • Sean Penn
  • Ioan Gruffudd
  • Jennifer Ehle
  • Eddie Marsan
  • Steve Coogan
  • Jeremy Irvine
  • David O'Hara
  • Stephen Dillane

Did You Know?


  • This movie marks the first time Mel Gibson and Sean Penn will star in a movie together.
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  • Minor has a flashback of the Civil War and we see a man who has lost his leg in battle screaming. But the man has obviously already had surgery on the leg and it is now a healed stump, not a fresh injury.


    • James Murray: This is about recording the evolution of meaning.
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Atom User Reviews

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May 27, 2019

The film’s only real draws are Gibson and Penn, who come at the material from opposite ends of the acting philosophy spectrum...It's simply confounding, much like the rest of the movie.

Metacritic review by Elizabeth Kerr
Elizabeth Kerr
The Hollywood Reporter
May 12, 2019

What a superficial and tedious motion picture, never quite bad enough to be campy, never remotely good enough to justify watching it instead of reading the book’s Wikipedia page.

Metacritic review by William Bibbiani
William Bibbiani
May 10, 2019

It’s the presence of Gibson and his co-star Sean Penn, who give the project a stuffy sanctimoniousness, as it so transparently yearns to be the definition of “powerhouse acting.”

Metacritic review by Nick Allen
Nick Allen