At 21, brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking is told that he has the crippling muscle disease ALS and has only two years to live. More than fifty years later, he is still with us, albeit completely paralyzed. His moving life story has now been filmed in 'The Theory of Everything', in which actor Eddie Redmayne as the deteriorating Hawking in particular leaves an indelible impression.
Stephen Hawking (1942) is perhaps the most famous scientist of our time. A lecture by the Briton last summer in Utrecht was sold out within a minute. His contributions to physics are groundbreaking. But the fame is also mainly due to his atypical personality. For fifty years he has been defying the muscle disease ALS that has made him the trademark slumped slumbery man in his electric wheelchair, head tilted slightly and talking through his speech computer.
The trailer of The Theory of Everything .
With the recently released film The Theory of Everything Now everyone can relive their special life story up close. In the film, we follow Hawking from his college days at Cambridge University in the early 1960s. His talent soon became apparent there. At a party he meets Jane, whom he falls in love with instantly. However, he soon had the first problems with his motor skills. He trips over his own feet in the middle of the university campus and falls hard.
When a doctor gives him a diagnosis of ALS with a life expectancy of two years, his world seems to collapse for a while. But Jane forces him to get the most out of life together. They get married, have children and he tries to continue his scientific work. After all, his brilliant mind remains unaffected. Hawking appears to be able to keep it up wonderfully and also becomes world famous, even if this is accompanied by increasingly greater sacrifices for the family.
Eddie Redmayne's extraordinary acting as the physically debilitating Hawking makes you truly touched by his tragic fate. Redmayne reportedly spent four months preparing for the role of an ALS patient. As a result, he looks like the physicist himself in everything, down to the minuscule muscle twitches in the face. But Felicity Jones also plays a strong role as Jane, which means that you will sympathize with this family anyway.
The film is a traditional biopic, in the sense that it stays fairly true to the facts. For example, the fact that Hawking puts a pack of detergent in front of her door the morning after his meeting with Jane as a nod to their conversation the night before has actually happened. The main exception to this is that the film barely considers the end of the marriage between Stephen and Jane, when in reality it was more difficult. Apparently, the fact that their years of quarrel has been settled in the meantime was a reason not to waste any more words in the film.
The Theory of Everything Contrary to the title, this is not a physics film. You don't have to watch the movie to understand what Hawking has come up with. For a moment, Jane tries to explain why Stephen is looking for the one formula that describes the entire universe. And his brilliant dissertation and revolutionary idea for the escape of radiation from a black hole – known as Hawking radiation – may be discussed, but the viewer probably won't be much wiser. That lack of science is, in a way, a pity. The real reason for his genius remains difficult for the general public to grasp.
Still, physics fans will also have reason to smile of recognition. As for the well-known other physicists who pass by, such as Roger Penrose and Kip Thorne, and the bet that Hawking made with the same Thorne whether Cygnus X-1 was a black hole or not, with a subscription to the Penthouse (Hawking lost ). The popular science book A Brief History of Time that made him world famous. Or Hawking's often-used joke as the first sentence of a lecture:'Can you hear me?', to which the answer can of course always be 'yes'.
Despite the limited attention to science itself, you have to recognize at the same time that director James Marsh's choice to focus mainly on the person Stephen Hawking and his family ensures that the film takes hold in such a way. The story goes that Hawking himself had to shed a tear when seeing the film. The Theory of Everything is an impressive and moving film that once again underlines the uniqueness of Hawking. And also that you can achieve a lot with perseverance, hope and love.