Movie Review, Reviews


Spawning a biopic that is compact and marrow, is usually tough and its tougher when you’re recreating seventy-two years of a life as great as Stephen Hawking’s. Handling the fluctuations of Hawking’s life and keeping them raw yet concise is one challenge that director James Marsh has knocked off with utmost efficiency. The movie, is an adaptation by Anthony McCarten of Jane Hawking’s novel ‘Travelling to Infinity: My life with Stephen’. The biographical romance released in 2014 with Eddie Redmayne as the protagonist Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking.

The movie outsets as a drive back to 1963, when Hawking, was still at a stone’s throw distance from becoming a renowned figure. We see him as a college student in Cambridge, exceptionally intelligent but ordinarily lazy. With his whimsical youth, we get to witness Hawking biking around in Cambridge until he meets Jane. Jane, a poet and also a singer has a staunch belief in God that clashes with Stephen’s disbelief. To everyone pasted with the image of Hawking on a wheelchair, this phase of the movie is more of an uncovering.

While still striving in his research at age of 21 his muscles began to detoriate causing him to injure his head. Medical diagnosis swipes him with the news that he has been gripped by a neurological disease, motor neuron disease(Lou Gehrig’s disease) that bereaves him of his speech and any physical movement.

Mounting over the jolt, Stephen becomes hermetic working tirelessly on his research.  As he becomes strictly reclusive, Jane(Felicity Jones) proposes to him. Choosing to stay with him even as his condition worsens, the romance blooming between two geeks leads to their marriage that was to last 25 years giving them three children. Amidst all the romantic and dramatic hustle, Stephen remains fixated on solving the mysteries of the universe. He  presents his thesis about the Big Bang Theory to the examination board, which becomes an immediate success. The happiness was still only blending when he realises he is unable to walk and thus starts using a wheelchair. Stephen and Jane have their second child, post which his work on the visibility of black holes makes him a world renowned physicist.  All this while, Jane, who becomes extensively chained to taking care of the kids and of Stephen’s health, becomes frustrated at her inability to complete her own research. There is nothing uncomplicated about Jane’s struggle to build a life for her family.  As an escape from her mental turmoil she becomes close friends with Jonathan Heller(Charlie Cox), whom she meets at the church. Jane later employs him as a piano teacher for her son. Following the close and perpetual interaction, they develop a liking for each other. Things become barbed after the birth of their third child, when Stephen, contracts pneumonia. Doctors tell Jane, that Stephen needs a tracheotomy. The surgery is carried out leaving him unable to speak. He learns to use the spelling board and uses it to communicate with his nurse, Elaine(Maxine Peake), whom he later comes to mellow feelings for. Bolstered by the access to  a computer with a built in speech synthesiser he writes his record breaking  novel ‘A Brief History of time’. Once again alongside the moment of rejoice, we see Jane coming to the consciousness that their marriage has been a flash in the pan, and they divorce. While Jane and Jonathan reunite, Stephen goes to America to receive an award along with Elaine. There on seeing a fellow drop his pen, Stephen is brought to the calamitous reality of his life, his inability to get up and return that pen, the simplest actions of life. He wends on to give a  deeply heartening speech quoting

“There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life,
there is hope”.

The Theory of Everything hands over to  us the genuine, substantial and the nearest to tactile story of the British  physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. A character like Hawking, stands in need of an inexplicable actor, and Eddie Redmayne proves to be the right choice. Felicity Jones radiantly pulls off the character of Jane. Marsh is ruthlessly particular with the details magnifying the tiniest of details. This makes the numerous awards and nominations least surprising. The movie was accolade with the British Academy Film Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best British Film, and Best Actor. Eddie Redmayne went ahead to win the Golden Globe for Best actor in a motion picture. To sum up the essence, The Theory of Everything is a gripping tale about science, emotions, family furled into a love story abiding to make you cry.

-Narhitya Nawal
B.A Hons. English, Jamia Millia Islamia

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