It almost doesn’t feel right to try and condense a film as powerful as The Theory of Everything into a blog post. The film, which is far and away one of the most emotionally resonant and deeply moving films I’ve ever seen, was an absolutely stunning portrayal of one of the greatest minds to ever walk this earth. Directed by James Marsh, the biopic does more than show the genius of Stephen Hawking. It shows the deep rooted power of love and its ability to help human beings defy insurmountable odds.
When most people hear the name Stephen Hawking, they immediately think of the genius in a wheelchair with some disease who speaks through a computer; that generic, emotionless, monotone which has become synonymous with the famed physicist. But Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of the man behind the voice and the chair transcended acting in a way rarely seen. He WAS Stephen Hawking. His anger and frustration is perceptible as he slowly slips into complete paralysis. And yet, Redmayne is able to show the man within the body, never losing his sense of humor and conveying loss, hatred and jealousy through his unresponsive visage.
Beginning in the early 1960’s, a young Stephen Hawking is in the prime of his life and pursuing a PhD in Physics at the University of Cambridge. While there two life changing milestones confront Hawking nearly back to back. The first is meeting the love of his life, literature student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones); the second is his soul crushing diagnosis with ALS. Hawking learns he has an estimated two years to live while his muscles slowly deteriorate into useless masses. Jane, whom he tries to persuade to leave, opts to stick it out and make Stephen’s remaining time on this planet as happy and comfortable as possible. Despite everything, Hawking completes his PhD, marries Jane and even has children as he continuously defies the odds which were so abruptly stacked against him.
The film is as much the story of Jane Hawking as it is her husbands. The struggles she endures and her unwavering support year after year is both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Their relationship is one rooted in hope and built entirely on their love for one another. Over the course of Hawking’s life Jane remains one of the few people who sees Stephen for who he was before the disease decimated his body leaving only his mind intact. She continues to be the constant reminder that there is a normal man trapped inside his shell, which only serves to make the films climax all the more powerful.
This is a film that EVERYONE needs to see. It shows us the almost unimaginable power of hope and love against a backdrop of suffering and emotional hardship. It reaffirms how lucky each and everyone one of us are and teaches us to not take our lives for granted. In this way, we are humbled to watch a man accomplish so much in the face of such odds. It allows for a level of self-reflection often not present in film. Much like Hawking’s brilliant theories on time and the universe, the film is perfection.