Here we are, almost to the end of the semester. So what better time to read about a movie? I was asked to go see a new movie and then review it for all of you honorees. I chose to see James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. There were many strong and weak points of the movie, but I will share my perspective with you on the overall themes, characters, and artistic representation.
We have all heard of Stephen Hawking. We know he has Lou Gehrig’s disease and that he’s a brilliant scientist, but usually our knowledge usually ends there. The Theory of Everything allows us to know more about the actual life of Stephen and the people who supported him. The movie is actually based on the autobiography of Jane Hawking (Stephen’s wife), so we get an informal perspective of him.
The theme of time was extremely important throughout the Hawking family’s life. With the presumed shortening of Stephen’s life, theories about time consumed him. The viewer is thrown into a time warp during the movie because the story is a progression over about thirty years. We watch as his physical abilities disintegrate, but they are so gradual that we are not distracted by it. At the end of the movie, the viewer has two chances to see him before his diagnosis, and it is shocking to see what time has done to his body. It is also amazing to see time wear his ego down to a more human level, as well as his total denial of God’s existence move towards an acceptance of God’s hand in creation.
Jane Hawking is definitely the hero of the story. Despite Stephen’s determination in the face of discouragement, he is not an entirely likable character. He is painfully self-centered throughout the whole movie, and Jane receives the brunt of it. Through that, however, she demonstrates an amazing balance of strength, loyalty, tenacity, and grace. She showed what it means to choose to love someone. Stephen loved her, but often did not (or could not) show that love. Many people would show obvious discontentment and impatience with a lack of reciprocation and appreciation; but she had chosen to love Stephen, and she did not waver from that decision. That’s such a beautiful lesson to us today. We are often told that love is what makes us 100% happy all of the time, but that just isn’t the case. The Theory of Everything gave its audience an incredible love story, without romantic love as the “be all and end all”.
Even with its refreshing perspectives and solid overarching themes, my favorite part of The Theory of Everything was definitely the artistic aspect. The camerawork was brilliant. The lighting was captivating. The editing was flawless. The director made crucial shots look so artistic and beautiful without sacrificing any of the needed information. Being set in England, one would assume that cool lighting would be primarily used. However, the cinematographer would juxtapose cool and warm lighting from shot to shot, and it flowed really well. With time being such an important theme, certain shots of objects or people would move clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the subject matter surrounding the shot. Also keeping with the theme of time, the editors played around with reverse video. I absolutely adore reversed video, so I thought that it made the movie particularly strong. The writers and editors used it in such an artistic and symbolic way that I was left in awe.
This is a movie that needs time to sink into your brain and heart. If you watch it, you will come away with a new appreciation for those who choose to love you, those you choose to love, and determination in the face of hardship. It shows that hard work and intelligence are valued, and that may be something that you need after finals. I would like to leave you with Stephen’s ending quote for the movie: “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. However bad life may seem, while there is life, there is hope.”