On the 14th of March 2018, we were given the tragic news that the legendary Dr Stephen Hawking has passed away after his battle with motor neuron disease. The tributes poured out of every corner of the world, celebrating this amazing man and his many accomplishments. I was shocked as well since Hawking was a constant during my entire life. I always knew of this brilliant scientist that was confined to a wheelchair and spoke through a robot voice. However, I didn’t truly know the man himself. Where he came from, how he gained his prominence or how he fundamentally changed the course of science forever. It just so happen that there was a movie on my list that related to his life that I was yet to watch and that’s The Theory of Everything. Considering his passing and my general ignorance of the man himself, I thought this movie was the absolute perfect candidate for this week’s movie.
Instead of focusing on Stephen Hawking’s numerous and bountiful achievements throughout his impossible to fathom life, The Theory of Everything instead focuses on his relationships, the struggles of dealing with motor neuron disease and the very human conflict that happens when one is caught in such a situation. At first, it explored the beautiful relationship between Stephen and his first wife Jane, a star-crossed pairing that was nothing short of spectacular. The love story is one of sacrifice, strife, compromise and supporting someone who was given two years to live. The sparks flew between Stephen and Jane, with Stephen’s vast intelligence and Jane’s pure heart spinning in tandem.
This is all being framed within Hawking’s various scientific findings, from the theorems that he proposed during his time at Cambridge University to the final world-changing effects he had on the scientific world. If you’re a man who wants to explain the nature of everything, you’re bound to raise some eyebrows, but if you do that math and prove what you’re saying, you’re bound to become a legend. Hawking has become a household name for various reasons and even throughout my childhood, I always assumed he was some genius. He gained mythical status in my head, a figure of science and discovery and a person of unshakable conviction and strength, However, I didn’t know how flawed he was and what an effect he had on the loved ones he chose to surround himself with.
We are still human and when your husband and love of your life suffers a debilitating illness that leaves him paralysed and later on, mute, the cracks in your patience start to show. You start to think of your children having a father that can’t play with them or give them the childhood they deserve, your life essentially being engulfed by being a caretaker and living a life that you didn’t anticipate.This was what Jane Hawking was going through and it actually stunned me that she held on for so incredibly long. Many people would have tapped out a long time ago, but she stayed with her husband through all of it. Until, of course, she just couldn’t anymore.
If you believe Jane was selfish in her decision to leave Stephen and pursue a new love, you’re painting yourself quite high and mighty. I wouldn’t be able to muster the power necessary to go through such a thing and would have crumbled under the pressure extremely quickly. What Jane did was selfless in the biggest way possible. Would it have been better if she stayed with Stephen until the end? Sure, but life isn’t a fairytale. Let’s not also forget that Stephen had an affair with his nurse, which was quite the turn-around to see that the one that was consuming the life of his wife would ultimately betray her. These are very human emotions to have and not even being the smartest man in the world can help you show the kinks in your armour.
The movie itself was a masterwork. The cinematography was immensely well done and Eddie Redmayne portrayed Stephen Hawking with such accuracy and passion that you could have believed he was the man himself. Felicity Jones played Jane Hawking fantastically as well, showing all of the ranges of emotion one goes through during such a life. The supporting cast can’t be forgotten either, with each of them being endearing and fitting in their own way. It was exactly how a biopic should have been done, even if it did take a couple of liberties with the actual story that happened.
This movie gave me an entirely new perspective on both Stephen Hawking and life itself. I thought of Hawking as infallible, a genius human being with the answers to the entire universe in front of him. But he was just as flawed as you or I. You’d even not be out of place to call him a bit of a bastard. He went through one of the worst ordeals a person can potentially go through. Progressively losing all autonomy of your body and any semblance of physical control is an ordeal that not many people would be able to survive. Yet he wrote multiple best-sellers with nothing but a clicker and a computer screen. Penned science’s most important theories. Had two wives and three children. How in hell can you tell yourself that you can’t do something because it’s too difficult if a person like that existed in this world?
Given two years to live in his twenties, he lived until he was 76. An age that some people would only dream of reaching. A man in a wheelchair overcome every impossibility thrown at him and sought to prove the impossible. You don’t get more remarkable than that. The world and the universe itself was changed by this genius, remarkable and incredibly flawed man. What is your excuse? What is my excuse?
Rest in peace, Professor Hawking. You deserve it.