A few years ago I was walking in Cambridge with my sons and just in front of us was Stephen Hawking in his multipurpose wheelchair, surrounded by some young carers who were cracking a couple of jokes with him. We were of course curious onlookers, but we also noted how freely and easily he related to his carers despite the formidable challenges that faced him on a daily basis.
We were curious onlookers of a man who has defied all odds and survived to the ripe old age of 72! He was at Cambridge University when he was first diagnosed with his motor neuron disease when he was given two years to live. There is an apocryphal story to say the college was not willing to make the modifications to a downstairs bathroom to accommodate him because they didn't think he was going to live long enough.
Well how wrong they were, how prodigious a personality he is and will be. How prolific a writer and thinker irrespective of whether some of his theories are now being re considered.
The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde, is not so much about Hawking the scientist, but about him as a young man and his first love affair which led to his first marriage. A marriage which was full of love and commitment on both sides and a considerable number of children given the challenges they both faced. Perhaps in the end it proved to be just too difficult.
The performances given by both actors are deserving of nominations to the Oscars and the story is painted in a refreshing and sympathetic light for both characters. Neither one comes off any the worse or better I think, which is an achievement in itself and also an affirmation that both were ready to move ahead with their lives, constantly exploring and engaging in other pastimes and people.
The film is based upon the book "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen", by Jane Hawking and I loved the fact that this did not focus so much on him but on her and her commitment to him. It is ably directed by James Marsh and a film which I very much enjoyed both in the way it told the story and in the performances of the actors.