The previous year was an exceptionally good year for movies related to scientists. We recently reviewed the biopic on Alan Turing, The Imitation Game which was full of power packed performances on all quarters. This time, we speak about another powerful movie, The Theory of Everything which is based on the life of Stephen Hawking. In the annals of 20th century science, three physicists stand out tall in the public psyche – Einstein, Feynman and Hawking. The work that they did or in the case of Hawking that he does may not be understood by the masses, but they still have a huge fan following. The reasons in the case of Hawking are not too difficult to pinpoint. This is a man who at the prime of his life was diagnosed with a life threatening disease, was given two years to live and yet he has battled the disease for decades now and in the process changed the course of human history and our understanding of the universe we live in. So, to say the least; a biopic on his life is not only an excellent idea but also a very difficult task to carry out. Given the fact that the subject of this movie is a living legend, everyone involved in the movie has done a wonderful job and this has been very well amplified in the recent Academy Awards nomination list.
The Theory of Everything is a 2014 British movie directed by James Marsh and adapted by Anthony McCarten from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which deals with her relationship with her ex-husband, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in physics. The film stars Eddie Redmayne in the role of Hawking and Felicity Jones in the role of Jane. It received four Golden Globe Award nominations, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for Redmayne and Best Original Score. The film also received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Redmayne and Best Actress for Jones. This is enough to say how great a movie this is in terms of acting and direction.
The movie begins with scenes from Hawking’s graduate student life, where he decides upon his thesis topic on the basis of a famous lecture by Sir Roger Penrose. He meets Jane and is instantly in love with her, then he discovers that he has a life threatening disease but still continues to do physics against all odds. The movie poignantly crafts a picture of a man who has such passion and love for the scientific inquiry that he decides to work on physics against fate and God. The picture of this man, who is too frail to walk but is intellectually considered to be the smartest man alive on the planet will continue to stay with the viewers for a long time to come.
Although this is a biographical movie on a scientist, but too less science is shown in the movie. Instead the movie focuses on the personal life and hardships that Hawking and his first wife, Jane face because of Hawking’s disease. After watching this movie, your respect for both Hawking and Jane would be bound to increase. This is a story of human survival and victory from the jaws of defeat. Here and there one can see some random science stuff thrown around, when Hawking talks with his thesis adviser, Dennis Sciama or when he is seen explaining his work to friends. Personally, I would have loved to see some of his work on black holes and early universe shown in a much clearer way.
Overall, the movie is a correct portrait of this great physicist, but as a biography of a scientist I feels it lacks science in the overall scheme of things. With excellent acting and direction this is indeed a well made movie, but the story at some points seems to be too lose. The movie seems to stop abruptly after showing Hawking become an international best selling author with his book ‘A Brief History of Time’. It needed some more elements to reach the level of A Beautiful Mind for instance.
Name: The Theory of Everything
Director: James Marsh
Lead actors: Eddie Reymayne, Felicity Jones
Running time: 123 min