Amelia’s Theory on “The Theory of Everything”
By AMELIA BAUMANN
In the early 1960s the young astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the award-winning film “The Theory of Everything,” meets Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), a fellow student at Cambridge University. Adapted from Jane Wilde Hawking’s “Music to Move the Stars: A Life with Stephen,” the film is a captivating look at the couple’s marriage, struggles, and lives.
Early on in the film, Hawking is a brilliant, fumbling doctoral student who meets and falls in love with Wilde, a bright, witty scholar of medieval Spanish poetry. As the film progresses, Hawking becomes increasingly clumsy, and ultimately suffers from a major collapse in the campus courtyard. At 21 years of age, Hawking is diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. After his doctors predict that he only has two years to live, Hawking attempts to break off his relationship with Wilde, but she refuses to abandon him, assuring him that she is prepared for whatever is to come. They eventually marry and have three children. With time, Hawkingcontinues to pursue his “one simple, elegant equation” to explain everything in the universe, his theory of everything. Though Hawking’s body deteriorates, his mind soars. Defying all odds, Wilde and Hawking spend the next 30 years of their lives together until their divorce in 1995.
Eddie Redmayne plays the brilliant scientist with grace and honesty, particularly during the character’s most challenging moments. As Hawking’s disease advances, Redmayne is able to beautifully portray Hawking’s will and ambition to rise above his condition. In an equally stunning performance, Felicity Jones slips into the role of Wilde with ease, and plays it with such tenacity and vibrancy that it is impossible for the viewer not to wonder what Wilde could have become if she hadn’t met Hawking in the first place.
The sole complaint I have is a silly one, but a complaint nonetheless. In a scene at the beginning of the film, Hawking is seen in a striped blue cap, shouting on Cambridge’s crew team as they row across the water. As Hawking yells words of encouragement in the excitement of the moment, his hat is blown off of his head in a gust of wind. While this may seem tedious, it irked me that they didn’t re-shoot the scene. Excitement can easily overwhelm both the striped hat and this freshman reporter.
At the Academy Awards, Eddie Redmayne won Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Hawking. “The Theory of Everything” was also nominated for Best Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Felicity Jones), Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay (Anthony McCarten), and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures/Original Score (Jóhann Jóhansson).
“The Theory of Everything” is a stunning cinematic experience that explores the limit of the human spirit, only to find that it does not exist. In the words of Stephen Hawking, “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”