The Theory Of Everything, movies, character development, conversation, physics

We went to see “The Theory Of Everything” this evening, the movie about Steven Hawking and Jane Wilde Hawking, their life together, his development of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and his work. It was well done. I was staggered by the way in which Eddie Redmayne showed the progression of the disease in his body, by how completely convincing he was.


Movies that cover a significant number of years almost invariably leave me feeling unsatisfied, knowing that the surface has merely been scratched. It is quite difficult, in my opinion, to convey in a movie the depth possible in a book. Various of the scenes in this movie were filmed (or processed in such a way) so that they had the quality of a home movie, blurry, fuzzy, glowing. And though the effect was cool and interesting, to me it added more distance, took me out of the immediacy of the moment in the life story that was being told.

The result was that I had the sense of watching a series of animated snapshots, something like the moving photos in the Harry Potter world, that even though these snapshots included sound as well as motion, they were just images, unreachable. I wanted more dialogue, more than just one scene of Jane writing to get a sense of her as an academic (after all, she was a graduate student herself at the time, and earned a Doctorate in Romance Languages – the Wikipedia article is short, and I haven’t found more detail yet), more time with the various characters so I could actually get to know them, and to make the narrative more comprehensible. When Jane declares that she loves Stephen and will marry him despite his diagnosis and decline, my main reaction, based on the few scenes already shown of their interaction, was, “Wait, what?” But for that, I suppose, I will have to read the book.

Yet there was emotion expressed and felt. And I experienced the sense of dislocation upon coming out of the theatre into the lobby that happens when I’ve been engaged with a movie. I’m glad we went to see it, as it spawned contemplation and questions. In the car on the way home, Ted and I had a good conversation about the content and processes of stars, their birth, how singularities are created, that black holes do actually emit radiation, and about the universe(s) and how it/they might have/will be created and “live”.

I cannot, and never have been able to, really wrap my mind around the thing/place into which the universe(s) is/are expanding. I am not sure my mind can comprehend it. Is it an absence? Is it a cauldron? Is it where all the matter came from in the first place? If there are other universes, do they contain the same sorts of elements, or other things altogether?

And finally, it seems completely ludicrous to me that in all the galaxies in our universe, that there wouldn’t exist other solar systems on which life has or will develop.

So here’s to gigantic, incomprehensible, practically indescribable ideas and the capacity of the minds which arrive at them, consider them, debate them, and are inspired by them.

And here’s to coming home and having an equally deep conversation with our wonderful nanny H about babies, their effluvia, and the way their presence has changed me forever.

It’s a weird, weird world.


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