Film No 1 (2015) : The Theory of Everything

Theory of EverythingThe first film I have seen in 2015. I wouldn’t care if I don’t see another film until 2016. ‘The Theory of Everything‘ has given me enough to think about for 52 weeks and I doubt if anything else I see this year will match it.

Professor Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) in 1963 when he was just 21. He had already met Jane Wilde and, despite Stephen having been given only 2 years to live, the couple were married in 1965 and went on to have three children. Director James Marsh attempts to tell the Hawkings’ story from Jane’s point of view (the story line is adapted from Jane’s memoir ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen’). Whilst it does loosely document Hawking’s extraordinary scientific career, including the writing of his 10-million copy selling ‘A Brief History of Time‘, the primary focus of the movie is his marriage to Jane and their family life.

Eddie Redmayne‘s transformation into Stephen Hawking is awe-inspiring: the decline in his dexterity, physical posture, speech and facial expressions as Hawking’s disease progresses, are totally agonising. Felicity Jones is captivating as Jane Hawking, displaying determination and despair with equal flair. But to my mind, Redmayne owned the screen; I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Hawking has apparently said himself that the film is ‘broadly true‘ and there were times during the screening when he felt he was watching himself. He was sufficiently impressed with the movie to allow his own synthesised voice to be used in the final version.

I didn’t learn much about physics, or cosmology, or black holes from this film. Instead, I came to understand something of the life of a remarkable couple, but even more about truly great acting. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones will wipe the floor with all the contenders for the major film awards and accolades in 2015. Eddie Redmayne has surely given the performance of a lifetime as Stephen Hawking; his portrayal of the scientist shows absolute mastery of the craft of acting.

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