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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Die Hard – With a Vengence (1995)

SIMON: Why was the phone busy? Who are you calling?
JOHN: The psychic hotline.
SIMON: I’d advice you to take this more seriously.
JOHN: Look, this is a public phone, what do you want me to say?
SIMON: You could simply say that there was a fat women on it and it took you a minute to get her off. Now John, there's a significant amount of explosive in the trash receptacle next to you. Try to run and it goes off now.
JOHN: Nobody's gonna run, but I've got a hundred people out here.
SIMON: That's the point. Now, do I have your attention? As I was going to St-Ives, I meet a man with 7 wives, every wife had 7 sacks, every sack had 7 cats, every cat had 7 kittens. Kittens, cats, sacks and wives, how many were going to St-Ives? My phone number is 555-...
JOHN: No, no, wait. I didn't get all that. Say it again.
SIMON: Not a chance. My phone number..
JOHN: What? I didn't...
SIMON: is 555 and the answer. Call me in 30 seconds or die.
JOHN: All right, 7 guys with 7 wives.
ZEUS: Shut up McClane, I'm good at this.
JOHN: 7 guys with 7 wives.
ZEUS: Shut the fuck up McClane. He said 7 wives with 7 sacks. 7 time 7 is 49. Now, tell me the rest.
JOHN: All I got is sacks with 7...
ZEUS: Weren't you listening?
JOHN: Yeah, I was only trying to hear.
ZEUS: What the fuck is wrong with you?
JOHN: Beside I have a bad fucking hangover for one thing.
ZEUS: All right, all right. 7 wives time 7, 49 with 7 cats, 7 time 49 is, 343, right?
JOHN: You're asking me or telling me?
ZEUS: I'm telling you, 343 time 7 is, 2401, that's what you got? Right?
JOHN: Yeah, that's what I get. Is that it? 2401?
ZEUS: That's it. Dial, 555-2401.
ZEUS: No wait, wait. It's a trick. It' a trick.
JOHN: What, what, what do you mean?
ZEUS: I forgot about the man.
JOHN: What man? Fuck the man. We got 10 seconds.
ZEUS: He said how many were going to St-Ives, right? The riddle begins as I was going to St-Ives, I meet a man with 7 wives. The guy and his wives aren't going anywhere.
JOHN: What are they doing?
ZEUS: Sitting on a fucking road, waiting on the... How the hell should I know?
JOHN: Who's going to St-Ives than?
ZEUS: The guy, just the guy.
JOHN: Just one guy?
ZEUS: The answer is one.
JOHN: Just the guy. How do you dial 1?
ZEUS: 555-0001.
JOHN: 0001. Just one guy is going.
SIMON: Hello John.
JOHN: Yeah. Piece of cake. Give us something harder next time.
SIMON: But you're 10 seconds late.2nd scene
SIMON: I trust you see the message. It has a proximity circuit. So please, don't run.
JOHN: Yeah, I got it. We're not gonna run. How do we turn this thing off?
SIMON: On the fountain, there should be 2 jugs, do you see them? A 5 gallon and a 3 gallon. Fill one of the jugs with exactly 4 gallons of water and place it on the scale and the timer will stop. You must be precise, one ounce of more or less will result in detonation. If you're still alive in 5 minutes, we'll speak.
JOHN: Wait, wait a second. I don't get it. Do you get it?
JOHN: Get the jugs. Obviously, we can't fill the 3-gallon jug with 4 gallons of water.
ZEUS: Obviously.
JOHN: All right. I know, here we go. We fill the 3-gallon jug exactly to the top, right?
ZEUS: Huhuhu.
JOHN: Okay, now. We pour that 3 gallons into the 5-gallon jug. Given us exactly 3 gallons in the 5-gallon jug, right?
ZEUS: Right, then what?
JOHN: All right. We take the 3-gallon jug and fill it at the 3rd of the way...
ZEUS: No, he said: Be precise. Exactly 4 gallons.
JOHN: Shit. Every cop within 50 miles is running his ass off and I'm out here playing kids games in the park.
Look, we can't take this off, it will detonate. Just wait, wait a second. I got it. I got it. Exactly 2 gallons in here, right?
ZEUS: Right.
JOHN: Leaving exactly 1 gallon of empty space, right?
ZEUS: Yeah.
JOHN: A full 5 gallon here, right?
ZEUS: Right.
JOHN: You pull a 1 gallon out of 5 gallon in there, we have exactly 4 gallons in here.
ZEUS: Yes.
JOHN: Common. Don't spill any. Good, good, good. Exactly 4 gallons.
ZEUS: You did it McClane.
3rd scene
SIMON: Temper John. The road of the truth has many turns. You will find an envelop under the rim of the fountain. When you undertake the trip it suggests, ask yourself this question: What is 21 out of 42?
JOHN: What's 21 out of 42?
ZEUS: 21 again. Half of 42. 42 of what?
JOHN: Go around them, go around them. I've found out who the 21st president is.
ZEUS: Who?
JOHN: Some guy named Arthur.
ZEUS: Chester A Arthur?
JOHN: Chester A Arthur, that's it, yeah.
ZEUS: Chester A Arthur elementary school?
JOHN: Yeah, that's it.