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The Theory of Everything

In theaters July 23, 2019

The Theory of Everything begins in Cambridge 1963 with a young, college aged Stephen Hawking attending Oxford University. Stephen is introduced to his future wife at a party during the first scene of the film. The music, the dresswear and dance moves were all very 60’s and puts the viewer in that scene, in that decade. In addition to the set doing it’s job, the actor playing Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) holds the uncanny ability to hold himself like a young Stephen. Eddie has been in many films, but this is the part he was born to play.

Within the first 10 minutes we are introduced to Stephen’s brilliant and extremely sarcastic mind. We witness he and Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) falling in love through secret kisses and forlorn glances. They fell fast, but it was an adorably innocent love void of any complications, let alone the one that came in the form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which struck not long after their initial date. Stephen was balancing school, dating life, friends, and shaky hands that didn’t seem to really concern him. It was only after he exited a campus building, lost control of his limbs, and smashed his face on the concrete, did he go to the hospital to get checked out. He was diagnosed with ALS and given at most, two years to live. His doctor informed him that he would lose function of everything, including speech and movement. His first question was “What about the brain?” to which the doctor replied “Your thoughts won’t change, it’s just that no one will know what they are.” Which, to anyone sounds like the ultimate nightmare; to be locked inside your thoughts, with no outlet. The look of disparity on Redmayne’s face surmised how Hawking must have felt.

He tried to pull away from Wilde but she insisted she remain a constant in his life. They ended up getting married and with each interval (as we jump into the future), we are offered beautiful footage on an old 8mm camera of the wedding, or the birth of a child. They were living life to the fullest even with Stephen’s neurodegenerative disease progressing rapidly. We see how he continues his life, embracing his intellect and making strives within the general relativity and cosmology department. His friends remain proper mates, during one scene they carry him up a flight of stairs and set him on a statue. Beautiful moments with friends coupled with witty dialogue counter the depressing aspects of Hawking’s handicap.

Coming home to his children, we see a father who loves his children but is finding it increasingly difficult to even ascend the stairs to greet them. The contrast of his first born crawling around (soon to be walking) with Stephen’s own legs failing him is lost on no one. With each child born there is a sort of sad smile from Jane, happiness as her family grows, but more work on her shoulders. Caring for her husband is akin to caring for children, as she did everything for him.

While Jane was religious, Stephen was not, being that He was not proved in existence. He referred to God once as a “celestial dictator premises”. Needing her own outlet in the form of church choir, Jane fell in love with her choir director, soon to be close friend of the family, Jonathan Jones. Their love for one another grew, and Jane’s love for Stephen fell into a more platonic category. Stephen was quoted as saying in real life that he was okay with Jonathan staying around because they all thought Stephen was going to die and Jonathan would take his place, but of course he did not die, and you could feel the awkwardness Stephen’s being there left them with. Stephen eventually got the special communication box (his real Equalizer computerized voice was used) he has now and with that came a nurse who showed him how to communicate. His voice had disappeared by this point. All the while, Redmayne has pulled off an amazing feat, he has mastered the art of playing someone with advanced ALS. Showcasing how much of a smart ass Hawking could be without actually using inflections in his voice and very little movement of his body.

The tipping point came when Stephen and his nurse Elaine Mason paired off, as well as Jane and Jonathan. Jane pulls Stephen aside with tears in her eyes and proclaims “I have loved you, I did my best”. Jane never cheated on Jonathan and she truly did care for Stephen as best as she could, the viewer feels no malice. Even Stephen seemed weirdly content with the split. We again jump to the future (the 80’s) where he is doing a guest lecture on stage and in an almost daydream, imagines himself picking up a student’s dropped red pen. How different life would have been had he not been diagnosed with ALS. In his speech to the school he states “Where there is life, there is hope”. The final scene is when the Queen of England invites Stephen and his family to the royal palace. He brings Jane and his children. Afterwards we find out he turned down the offer of knighthood. The children are running around out of focus as Jane and Stephen watch. “It’s been rather extraordinary, hasn’t it? Look what we made.”

Do yourself the favor and witness this quietly enchanting film.

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