Before watching this movie, I had a general idea of the story of StephenHawking and the difficulties and triumphs he has experienced in his lifetime. However, now I realize that I previously had no proper understanding of the magnitude of not only his struggles, but also those of everyone around him. Directed by James Marsh and released in November, 2014, the movie The Theory of Everything has opened my eyes to the amazing story of Stephen and Jane Hawking.
I could not believe the amazing acting that Eddie Redmayne did in his role as Stephen Hawking. There’s no doubt in my mind that he absolutely deserves the Academy Award he won earlier this year. The way he was able to so effectively mirror the mannerisms and appearance of the actual Stephen Hawking was incredible, especially the way he spoke. Felicity Jones, the actress who plays Jane Hawking, did an excellent job as well. She was emotional and dramatic, but in a manner that was authentic and genuine. The exceptional acting of these two performers took this film to an entirely new level, and it truly felt like a documentary of Stephen Hawking’s personal life rather than simply a movie made to be watched at the movie night of a group of teenage girls (where I watched it!). It was heartfelt and heartbreaking, and even though it is most likely different from his actual life their performances made me feel for the characters as though everything that happens in this movie is absolutely true.
Let me emphasize this very important point: I do not normally cry when watching movies or reading books, but I actually cried during The Theory of Everything- several times! I don’t know why I originally thought it would be a more lighthearted, upbeat movie, but for some reason I was very surprised when I realized that it was going to be a definite tear-jerker. The first time I cried was about half an hour into the film, and it just got more sad and tragic from there. There’s just this utter frustration and tragic sorrow that washes over me whenever I think of Stephen Hawking and his ALS because it’s so incredibly unfair. He is such a brilliant man, and for someone who has a mind that is always working and thinking it must be torture to be incapable of expressing ideas easily. This movie did a great job at helping the viewer understand the range of emotions he and his family members experienced, or at least as much as we can understand it without going through it ourselves.
However, given the accomplishments of Stephen Hawking and his inspirational life there were also moments of hope and happiness. Stephen can surely be viewed as a hero, but I also believe that his wife, Jane Hawking, can be viewed as such as well. I could not believe the support and energy she put into their relationship day after day, even when his condition worsened beyond anyone’s initial belief. I felt so bad for her because she did only expect him to live for two years like the doctors originally said. That might sound bad, but there’s some truth in it: If she had known from the beginning that she was going to be spending thirty years of her life taking care of this man, would she still have agreed to marry him? Arguably yes, because she loved him and would do anything for him, but there’s always that chance that she could have changed her mind. I greatly admire Jane’s strength, independence, and spirit, and I am so glad that Felicity Jones was able to show these qualities through her beautiful acting.
I don’t want to give away any major spoilers, but I can’t neglect to mention the hugely unexpected twist in Stephen and Jane’s relationship toward the end of the movie. I was completely taken by surprise in the moment of it, but looking back it does make sense. A relationship can only go through so much before something has to give, and I honestly can’t blame either of them for the decisions they made given their extremely difficult circumstances.
There are certain moments in movies that simply take your breath away with their brilliance, cleverness, or beauty. For me, the ending of this movie was one of those moments. Not only was stunning, but it fit very cleverly with one of Stephen Hawking’s scientific theories. It adds a different perspective to the entire movie, and after it was over I sat back and just thought, “Wow. What a film.” It was such a great cinematic effect, and as someone who really appreciates thoughtful, put-together endings I was very impressed with how it all came together.
After finishing the movie I learned that it is actually based on a memoir that Jane Hawking wrote, called Travelling to Infinity. I plan on reading the book soon, because I’d love to see if the story presented in the film closely resembles Jane’s actual life with Stephen. I’m sure there are many differences, but I’m curious to see exactly what those discrepancies are.
Overall, The Theory of Everything was a simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming movie. Even though much of it has probably been exaggerated or created solely for the purpose of entertainment, it nevertheless has sparked my interest for learning more about Stephen and Jane Hawking. Stellar acting, an inspiring story, and a brilliant ending all contributed to the effectiveness with which this film delivered its message. I highly recommend this movie, so long as you remember to have a box of tissues close by!
Have you ever seen this movie or read the memoir it’s based on? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!