Directed by New Zealand playwright Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything (2014) is an adaptation of ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,’ the memoirs of Jane Wilde Hawking, the first wife of renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking.
The Theory of Everything is a movie about two people who meet and fall in love at university. But the fact that one of them is Professor Stephen Hawking makes it much more remarkable. The film opens in the early 1960s, when young Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is a student at Cambridge and well on his way to becoming one of the great brains of the twentieth century.
He meets Jane (Felicity Jones), a gorgeous, vibrant young woman and falls for her. Unfortunately, their romance is derailed when Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and informed by physicians that he would not live more than two years. Stephen and Jane marry nevertheless, deciding to make the most of their time together, and by 1970 they have two children.
Gradually, Stephen’s health deteriorates, and he becomes a wheelchair-bound man. Eventually, his career flourishes as Jane is always there beside him communicating, working and helping him to lie. But with the passage of time, however, hardships, challenges, and distance build between them, determining whether or not their bond will persist.
In the film, it can be noticed that Hawking’s speciality subject, time, is mentioned many times. Every other conversation includes a reference to it.
When it comes to performances, we could almost feel like we are watching Hawking himself thanks to Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of him. Hawking’s portrayal in the film is genuine and classy throughout. In the face of his disease, Hawking is depicted to be courageous, determined, engaging, and witty. When Hawking first viewed the movie, he commented on Facebook, “At times, I thought he was me.”
In the 2015 Academy Awards, Redmayne won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. The film also received four other nominations including Best Motion Picture of the Year.
Felicity Jones, who played Hawking’s wife, is also fantastic. I feel that even with Redmayne’s incredibly detailed performance, the film ultimately belongs to Felicity Jones, with the focus given more on family and marriage than on relativity theories and quantum mechanics. She too deserved an Oscar consideration for her work.
The Science itself is barely mentioned in the film. Perhaps this is on purpose. The theoretical Cosmology is an acquired taste, and there just isn’t enough time in a two-hour film to explain it thoroughly.
It can be understood that, after eight years of rejection, the director finally got the rights and support he needed to make his dream of bringing this narrative to the big screen a reality. Many doubted that an audience would be interested in a story filled with Physics jargon and a primary character who is physically paralysed.
The film is an inspirational piece that highlights life’s realities as well as the hope that pushes you forward. In short, The Theory of Everything is one of those films that stays with you for days after you watch it. It is, without a doubt, an emotional roller-coaster ride that will leave you speechless. It was no easy task to represent Stephen and Jane Hawking in their best and worst moments, but Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones succeed in making the film the masterpiece that it is.
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