The Theory Of Everything DVD Review

DVD Review by Jarred Tito
The Theory of Everything

The Premise
The Theory of Everything is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, a bright but shiftless student of cosmology, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness at 21 years of age. He became galvanized, however, by the love of fellow Cambridge student, Jane Wilde, and he went on to be called the successor to Einstein, as well as a husband and father to their three children. Over the course of their marriage as Stephen's body collapsed and his academic renown soared, fault lines were exposed that tested the lineaments of their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both of their lives.

The Review
The theatre lights fade to black as the curtains open to their widest position. The film begins and we are immediately whisked away to the very quaint and beautiful cobble stoned English countryside town of Cambridge, the breeding ground of some of England’s finest and most acclaimed minds.  No time to take in the views because we’re instantly caught up in a highly competitive, and somewhat unnerving, bicycle race between two Cambridge cosmology hooligans, barreling their way through the pretty but slender streets of the student town, dangerously exchanging the lead and narrowly missing cars and foot traffic. This pace is not what I was expecting at all. The race continues through what I can only assume is the campus grounds. We watch with vexed anticipation as the pair finally pull up to an abrupt end where they quickly down their bikes and briskly head into what appears to be the local student watering hole, to sink a few cold ones with their mates. Now I can’t quite recall which of the two friends won the race or who bought the first round but what does stand out clearly in my memory was that one of these young fledglings was Stephen Hawking as we have never seen, and if we’re honest, thought of ever before. He’s young, athletic, playful, carefree and possibly rebellious.  What a brilliant start to I would have to say, was a superbly made film.

I am not completely sure of what the writer’s or film maker’s intensions were when this project was put together at its various stages, but what I am sure of, now that it is complete, is that they have ended up with one incredibly beautifully told and acted out gem. Sure this picture is a biographic on Stephen Hawking that does not fail to include all of his most famous scientific achievements including his formula for the Universe and Time as well as the release of his famous and very successful book, A Brief History of Time but it also does something which often other biographic movies fail to do and that is to reveal to us the heart of the man. Yes, I know that other films include the private lives and heartaches of their subjects but, for me, they often fail not because of the story but often because of the person playing the role. Enter Eddie Redmayne, who is absolutely faultless in his performance. Seldom have I seen an actor so committed to, and perfectly cast in a role. I don’t know Stephen Hawking at all but after seeing Eddie’s portrayal I feel like I do. There is definitely something very magical and inspiring about his whole work. For my part, he has earned his place in the actor’s hall of fame. 

He is of course is surrounded and supported by a wonderful cast including Felicity Jones who is also, along with Eddie, nominated for an Oscar for her performance. Oh yes, it’s Oscar time. 

The story line has its share of struggles, highs and lows and even moments of comedy. (Who would imagine Stephen Hawking and comedy… together…In the same sentence?)  If I were to attempt to summarize this picture into a single word it would have to be, ‘Journey’. If I had three words they would be, ‘ Journey against all odds’ (sorry that’s four.) An incredible journey of quite an exception person whose story is told wonderfully. From the early days though to the life threatening years to the Hawking we came to know on the television, wheelchair, formulas and American accented voice-box. Classic! 

The Verdict
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It’s very moving and quite edifying on several levels with a good does or irony too (aka marriage choice). I highly recommend this movie for anyone that enjoys a story told well. Big ups to the cast and crew. I must admit I did feel that the story got a little side tracked with Mrs. Hawking’s but then began to make sense as the story progressed, but for me it wasn’t perfect because of that. Or was it because I was so enthralled with Eddie’s performance?  But I’m just being picky. Final word…See this film and you won’t be disappointed.

NB: This is an important film that ought to be seen by every acting student, actor, director, producer and writer.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 11th June 2015
Rating: PG
Duration: 123 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior
Director: James Marsh (Shadow Dancer, Project Nim)

The Extras
In an e-mail to director James Marsh about the portrayal by Eddie Redmayne, Stephen Hawking said there were certain points when he thought he was watching himself.

Stephen Hawking's said that the film was "broadly true." He then went on to lend his voice for the final parts of the film.

In addition to his copyrighted voice, Stephen Hawking also lent the filmmakers his Medal of Freedom medallion and his signed thesis to use as genuine props in the film.

Eddie Redmayne met with Stephen Hawking only once before filming. "In the three hours I spent with him, he said maybe eight sentences," recalls Redmayne. "I just didn't feel like I could ask him intimate things." Therefore, he found other ways to prepare for the role. He lost about 15 pounds and trained for four months with a dancer to learn how to control his body. He met with 40 ALS patients, kept a chart tracking the order in which Hawking's muscles declined, and stood in front of a mirror for hours on end, contorting his face. Lastly, he remained motionless and hunched over between takes, so much so that an osteopath told him he had altered the alignment of his spine. "I fear I'm a bit of a control freak," Redmayne admits. "I was obsessive. I'm not sure it was healthy."

The screenwriter spent nearly three years convincing Jane Hawking to agree a film adaptation of her book.

It took writer Anthony McCarten 10 years to bring this story to the screen.

Screenwriter Anthony McCarten says Stephen Hawking having a tear wiped from his cheek by his nurse was the greatest moment of the film screening.

Eddie Redmayne considers the portrayal "a hefty challenge" as the film wasn't shot chronologically. Hence, he had to chart the physical deterioration of Stephen Hawking at the periodic time the scene took place.