Even if you are not a science aficionado most of us have heard of the book by Stephen Hawking; it was that popular and well-respected. It was a piece of work that made us rethink what we thought about the universe. This documentary is not really about the book per se; rather it is about the life of the world famous scientist. Despite the fact that he suffers from almost total paralysis it has been acknowledged that he is one of the great thinkers of our time.
Winner of a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991, Errol Morris’s (The Fog of War, The Thin Blue Line) film is another strong documentary in his quality heavy career. Clips of him lecturing, interviews with friends, family and colleagues and a little bit of science are mixed together to get an accurate portrait of the man.
Seeing how brilliant he is and how much he has to overcome in a physical respect in order to get his brilliance out is inspiring. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is afflicted with ALS and part of the film is dedicated to showing us the progressing of that brutal illness. Even Hawking himself admits that he might not have been so driven to work if not for the illness. As his body began to fail him and limit what he could do the more he pushed himself mentally.
What Morris does well is that he does not completely ignore Hawking’s quantum theories, instead he briefly explains them in a simple manner that anyone can understand. We see the evolution of theories such as the one on black holes.
What is most interesting and compelling about the film is how positive and inspiring it is. Even if you don’t agree with Hawking’s theories that does not matter because the door has been opened for speculation, investigating, calculating, and coming up with theories of your own. Thought is encouraged.
-32-page illustrated booklet