Superhuman: Genius

Superhuman: Genius

2008, Mystery  -   17 Comments
Ratings: 7.90/10 from 112 users.

Where does genius come from? Is it the byproduct of tireless work, developmental happenstance or divine inspiration? The documentary Superhuman: Genius explores this phenomenon by portraying the lives and accomplishments of five individuals for whom cerebral superiority is second nature.

The film opens with Akiane Kramarik, a 13-year old girl from Idaho who has painted with the detail and sophistication of a grand master since the age of four. She interprets her passion for painting as a literal calling from God, in spite of a complete lack of religious upbringing in her household. In nine short years, she's amassed an astonishingly accomplished collection of over 100 original paintings, and has published her works in numerous volumes. Her artistic intuition is guided by a force she herself does not fully understand.

Ben Pridmore is first shown browsing through the grocery store aisles for product serial numbers, and later reciting them with perfect recall to the check-out clerk. His memorization of long and complex numbered sequences is an amazement to spectators, and has earned him the top prize at three World Memory Championships. Yet his achievements have not translated into monetary success, and he remains an unemployed accountant.

The 1988 film Rain Man is perhaps the most popular of pop culture references to the enigmatic nature of genius. Superhuman: Genius traveled to Utah to meet Kim Peek (now deceased), the real-life inspiration for that Oscar-winning film. Diagnosed with savant syndrome at an early age, and told he would never be able to walk, communicate or learn as a result of his disorder, Kim has since gained notoriety for possessing the sharpest memory in recorded history, absorbing nearly 98% of everything he read.

The film also spotlights Ariel Lanyi, a 10-year old pianist and composer from Israel who was fed classical music from the moment of his birth, and Ainan Cawley, a wunderkind in the world of science who passed O Level Chemistry at the age of seven.

Each of their stories certainly inspire awe, but they also bring forth a series of perplexing questions about the human condition. Is the capacity for genius merely an untapped potential in all of us?

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kurt OConnor
4 years ago

because of failed erasing of the spirit may have allowed some memory

5 years ago

I think much of this doc can be summed up by the facial expressions of the first mom. Specially as the dad is talking about his own thought process. There is something fucked about that mom.

Mark Gaboury
6 years ago

Of mixed interest. Most of this doc is skippable.

6 years ago

True genius is innate. A true genius is born with the quality. Also it does not seem to be hereditary.

7 years ago

I honestly stopped watching the documentary after realizing how much of a douche and cocky and thinking hes a better human, aka the chemist little boy's dad. Really annoying. The only one that amazed me was the painter and the pianist, true prodigies.

7 years ago

Moderately interesting. More on the boy chemist would have been interesting. could he be the next Tesla? The girl artist is the family breadwinner. That is too sad. Sadly the boy music genius was being groomed the same way, playing adult concerts aged 10! He is a bit too arrogant or maybe it was his frustration at the pace determined for him by his parents.

david harding
7 years ago

I think the card memorising world record holder should be given an appearance on the big bang theory. How about it script writers.

7 years ago

To Trumpsahead: .... He can only memorize facts... he can't even carry on an actual conversation, therefore, he can't apply what he memorizes into any real world scenario.

7 years ago

The savant man who memorizes 98% of everything he reads is amazing and not so amazing. His father had surgery to remove melanoma from his face. There are at least 100 cures for cancer, and melonoma can be stopped with hydrogen peroxide. His son the Savant should turn his attention to learning something useful. Memorizing facts makes him an oddity or entertainment, but if he learned how to apply every known cure for disease he could save millions of lives and help give the BigPharma Despicable Health Sham System the Boot.
My conclusion is he is just another patsy until proven otherwise. You see, it's quite all right if he learns harmless information so long as he does not try to change the world.

7 years ago

I enjoyed this doco very much. I have always been interested in our brain processes and savants/genii. As to child prodigy pianists, check out Joey Alexander from Indonesia. His jazz maturity defies logic.

7 years ago

Weak. Only the painter and the pianist are true geniuses. Genius is masterful ability to _create_. Memorization and application are merely a matter of intelligence. The pianist said it himself: a child prodigy can simply play complex pieces quickly whereas he is a musician pulling novel music out of the ether and letting us hear its beauty. This requires a level of understanding that the prodigy lacks.

Mahmoud BouRaad
7 years ago

Values mater. So does freedom.
It's amazing where does genius come from...

7 years ago

...why were you guys so skimpy with the stars for this one... : ) – ...I gave it eight's well made, it's fascinating and it delivers something you probably wouldn't receive's very well worth watching...
...oh, and I almost forgot, some of the things you'd see are utterly unbelievable....but there it is! (So, yes, you should watch it if you haven't's just 46 minutes – 46 well spent minutes...)

7 years ago

very interesting

7 years ago

Once God or some religion come into it you know you are dealing with nutters.

7 years ago

the chemistry kids dad is a huge douche bag