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The Theory of Everything: knowledge and strength, he/it has it


It seems that biographies of important people with a pivotal role in history or science are trending at the Academy Awards this year. We've got The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and American Sniper to prove to us that humans are worth being annalyzed in movies and crazy fiction isn't the only thing cinema is good at.

The Theory of Everything tells the story of Stephen Hawking, the world famous theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. This is just a brief introduction for Hawking whose resume and work in the area of physics and cosmology is far too wide to even really get it all in a feature film.

Coming from British director James Marsh - whose filmography includes the renowned and appreciated documentary Man on Wire - The Theory of Everything only pinpoints the important steps in Hawking's lifetime achievement, focusing more on his love life and his relationship with his first wife - Jane Hawking. It is a deep and accurate analysis, as the screenplay is based on Jane Wilde Hawking's memoir - Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen - which describes their struggle with Hawking's motor neuron disease and how, against all odds, he survived it, becoming one of the most brilliant minds of our times and keeping his sense of humor despite his, well, tragic situation.


Comparing it to The Imitation Game, I would say The Theory of Everything manages to be righteous to its subject, while being warm without being tear-jerking - even though I did shed a couple of tears because it's a real story. It brings a clear picture of how Hawking nailed it and why he did and it is a good marketing tool for his books - I'm not blaming it, but rather thanking it for making me further dive into Hawking's research and area of interest.

Even if Benedict Cumberbatch has his merit in portraying Alan Turing, Edward Redmayne is as brilliant as Daniel-Day Lewis was in My Left Foot and that, in my opinion, is pretty hard to obtain, especially since it seems to be his first big part. It takes a lot of effort to play a physically disabled individual, moreover when the individual is brilliant and keeps a smile on his face. What Hawking has and Redmayne manages to bring to the screen is a unique frankness and warmth. It's hard to transmit that to the others (respectively - an audience) when the body language is reduced to the power of a look and the verbal communication to the cold voice of a robot. This type of connection is usually related to how people interact with one another and Hawking is stuck in a wheel chair with a crooked face, being completely dependent of the others. Needless to say sex appeal seems close to impossible to attain when in his situation. However both real life Hawking and on screen Redmayne manage to pull it off with just as little as witty reactions. He does have an impressive brain power, though, so it's hard not to fall for him.


Now back to the storyline, we get to know Hawking barely months before he finds out about his destructive condition. He is your regular type of smart Cambridge young man who seems like he'll someday change the world. He looks, talks and laughs like one. A bit introverted, but actually pretty sure of himself, acting a bit like he has the whole world in his hands but clumsy and awkward at times. He meets a girl at a party and they instantly click because they have the same light in their eyes - both figuratively and practically. She is an Anglican and regularly goes to church, he only believes in science. We've heard that story before, only this time they get married and have three kids. Before they decide to spend their lives together (or at least about 30 years of their lives) Stephen finds out he is sick from a disease that gradually and fast dissolves his motor neurons, meaning he will very soon loose his ability to walk, move, talk, swallow, breathe. But his brain will be ok. And so will his reproductive system as we find out on this occasion that the functions are separate. Jane is too infatuated with him and for a moment it really seems like there's no greater love either of them could find throughout their lifetimes - it seems like the wise, natural choice. What follows is an accurate description of how such a life unwinds without being too pushy and not at all melodramatic.

Throughout it, Hawking tries to formulate the theory of everything - meaning an equation that explains the creation of the Universe. What stays is that even for him, believing in God is not impossible or wrong. It's just another interpretation of the act of the Creation. However, no matter who or what you think was responsible for it - God, a black hole etc. - that's not what's puzzling him and it shouldn't puzzle anybody, it's more of a personal choice. The real trouble is with why the Universe happened. What caused it to become what it is today? In other words, Hawking has been trying in his entire career - and still is - to explain the whole world trough a simple, elegant equation. His desire to do so is like an unquenched thirst that not even a presumably fatal disease like his can kill. And that is admirable, especially in Hawking as a real person and in The Theory of Everything as a veracious, empathic and very charming cinematic summary of his wonder-life.

Tags:   Oscars, review, Academy Awards, trailer, nominees, biopic, film review, biography, The Theory of Everything, Stephen Hawking, Best Picture, Oscar nominees, James March, Man on Wire, Edward Redmayne

Related:   The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown



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