Film - The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything

Out on DVD now, Nate McKenzie goes all highbrow and gives us his Theory of Everything...

Stephen Hawking has devoted his life to finding an "elegant solution" that explains everything in the Universe. In The Theory of Everything Director James Marsh has found an elegant solution to telling that story.

The Theory of Everything stars Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking. Adapted from the book "Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen", written by Hawking's first wife Jane, the story centres around that very relationship. From their first encounter at a party, to the hints at his failing health, her refusal to leave him when he discovers that he has Lou Gehrig's Disease, and their life as a husband and wife amidst his increasing fame, the film moves swiftly but does not speed. I could say that it is a love story but that would be cliche and this movie is devoid of pretence. In the way that the Hawking's seem not to dwell and keep moving forward, so does the story. The director spends the appropriate amount of time on each scene but does not belabour any point.

Eddie Redmayne is absolutely astonishing as Hawking. In an interview with the man himself, Hawking said that while viewing the film, at times, it was like watching himself on screen. Nothing I can say would add to that praise. I was intrigued by Felicity Jones ability to look simultaneously 15 and 30 years old; overwhelmed, yet wise and determined. Many times, Jane's strength was subdued but Jones shone in those moments. Her passion and devotion to her husband and his life's work, despite their differences in religious beliefs, was a testament to the kind of woman she is. Behind every good man, as the saying goes.

What really struck me was the cinematography; it was like watching a movie through a kaleidoscope. I was in awe of many of the shots and even the final sequence and backdrop to the credits. It all was visually stunning and the fact that this movie was not nominated for an Oscar in that category is, well... that should not surprise as awards shows are inane. Being nominated for best picture and adapted screenplay but not cinematography is almost humorous as it was the greatest quality of a great quality film. As much as I enjoy dark, brooding stories, The Theory of Everything is a special bit of hearkening back to the Silver Screen days of cinema. A movie like this, with aspirations of winning awards, would normally be very heavy-handed, but this movie is delicate, relying on all aspects - visual, emotional, the acting itself, and even audio stimulation - to get the most from each scene.

The Theory of Everything

Some have complained the script did not devote enough time to Hawking's actual work in physics but I do not understand that complaint. First of all, we have much record of Stephen Hawking's work, through his autobiography, his books, and a plethora of TV and film spots such as Into The Universe; secondly, it is often a point of contention that Hollywood adapts screenplays from stories that are heartfelt and then bastardises them to make them more easily marketable to a broader audience. The Theory of Everything, being based on the accounts of Jane Hawking and her poignant relationship with Stephen, simply had to be what it was on the screen: an illustration of her work as the wife of the famous astrophysicist. The movie is as much about Jane as it is about Stephen and I think that is overlooked. To focus too much on his life's work would be an unfair representation to her accomplishments in dealing with his very difficult medical condition.

The last line of the film is delivered by Stephen as he and his now former wife Jane are in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. After he receives the Medal of Freedom from the Queen, watching their three children run around playfully. Stephen begins typing. Jane asks, "What are you writing?" A moment later, the mechanical voice from his translator says, "Look what we created" as he glances from her to their children. The Theory of Everything is as brilliant as its subjects, and is an adaptation as wonderful as any I've seen in recent years. It is witty and funnier than most comedies these days. 

Sweet, honest and entirely enjoyable.

Look what they created, indeed.

Image - IMDb.