Working Title Films have brought out The Theory of Everything, which is a sort of biographical love story about Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his first wife, Jane. The British film industry have produced two features this year that are both quintessentially English, so much so that one can almost smell tea and crumpets from the screen, the other movie that fits this description is the wartime film about Alan Turing. The Theory of Everything is not so much about the world famous physicist, but about his years with the first love of his life and giving a glimpse into workings of the scientist who has been called one of the smartest men in the world.
The film’s very Englishness is mainly down to the fact that Dr. Stephen Hawking is English. One of the more amusing scenes in the movie is when Hawking is given the computerised machine which will talk for him. When the great man tries it out, his wife Jane looks a little shocked and says, “it’s an American voice.” She then asks if they can have another voice. Apart from the humor in the scene, it also shows some of the cracks in the Hawking marriage at that time.
Directed by James Marsh (The King, Shadow Dancer) and based on the Jane Hawking biographical book which was turned into a screenplay by Anthony McCarten (The English Harem, Death of a Superhero) The Theory of Everything is not about Hawking’s accomplishments, but a snapshot of his life and showing the humanity of the man behind the genius. Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn, Les Misérables) is Hawking and Felicity Jones (Cape Wrath, Hysteria) is Jane and David Thewlis (DragonHeart, Kingdom of Heaven) plays Professor Dennis Sciama, the man who is Hawking’s friend and colleague.
Filmed in and around Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and its colleges, the cinematography is spot on and the “home movie” footage looks as authentic as the locations. Redmayne brings the world famous physicist to life and does such a splendid job that it looks like the two most likely candidates for the Best Actor Oscar in the upcoming Academy Awards will be Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, both men playing real people in biographical films. The Stephen Hawking love story, The Theory of Everything, is much lighter entertainment than the Turing drama, but both actors have outdone themselves.
Along with the astonishing way that Redmayne became Stephen Hawking, physically and visually, Felicity Jones gives her portrayal of Jane Hawking, nee Wilde, an honesty and reality that makes the audience instantly like and admire this strong minded woman who would not give up on the man she loved. When Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease at the age of 21, he apparently tried to get Jane to leave but she would not. It is the interaction between Jones and Redmayne that makes this film come to life, it should be pointed out, however, that all the actor’s who fill out the roles of the various people in Hawking’s life do an outstanding job.
The film follows these two remarkable individuals closely and from the first frame of the movie, the audience make a connection with both Stephen and Jane and it is all down to the script and the two actors who play the real characters. The entire world surely knows what Hawking has produced and his accomplishments in the world of science. They are also well aware of his “voice” and in the film Redmayne’s computer voice is the physicist’s real life computerized one. Stephen was so impressed with Redmayne and his recreation of him that he let the filmmakers use it. According to all those who know Hawking, they say that the film and the actor show the depths of the real man’s intellect, humor and his “spark.”
The Theory of Everything alludes to Stephen Hawking’s continued search for his theory that will explain everything, but while the film touches upon this quest, it really is a love story. One told so well and acted so perfectly that the audience really connect and care about these people. The movie opens November 26, prepare to be swept away by this English tale of love and its brief glimpse of the man behind the legend. This is a “must-see” film and one that will most likely take the Best Picture Oscar and a few more. Truly a wonderful cinematic experience.
By Michael Smith
Century Suncoast 16 Theatre