A Theory of Everything (2014)
Director: James Marsh
Running Time: 2hrs 3 mins. Certificate 12A
I’ve just been to see A Theory of Everything, the film about The life of Stephen and Jane Hawkins. I’ve never been one to get over emotional over movies, years of analysing them in film studies as a student, meant you can usual work out the ending of a film way before everyone else and that the director will manipulate your emotions by playing music, to evoke tears or a close up to make you focus on a specific issue.
Of course I know the well documented life of Stephen Hawkins, everybody does, and there had been up roar about the fact that Eddie Redmayne, who is not a person with a disability, was playing a disabled man. I wrote a blog about disabled people and cinema a few weeks ago, and far as I am concerned you can never have a disabled person playing somebody who was once able bodied from the beginning of a film about a man who ends up In a wheelchair, it isn’t possible in this instance.
All I was concerned about was the fact that Eddie Redmayne, had to handle this issue sensitively, there is a lot of responsibility to portray not just the staggering achievements of Hawking with the merit it deserves but also to not to glamourise Motor neurone disease or make light of his adversity, whilst not provoking pity either. Anyone who thinks Redmayne had it easy, Is sorely mistaken.
I need not have worried, this film sensitively handled the issues and emotion of a young man coming to terms with a life changing, sobering condition, with grace, humour and wit from whilst not holding back when it came to the strain and struggle it placed, not just on Stephen Hawking, but also his family and friends.
This film stuck a cord with me on a very personal level, I myself have been disabled from birth, but have always been aware that in some respects this makes me very lucky indeed. I haven’t missed what I’ve never had. Ignorance has been bliss and, in the main, I’ve been very happy with the way life has treated me.
Many of my friends, however, haven’t been as lucky, and over the years I have lost friends, far to early than is fair for anyone to bear, I’ve seen the disability rob them of youth, of life and been left helpless as the friends I love disappear into memories. How these friends ever stayed cheerful was a mystery. It seems so unfair that we never drank and drove, we never went to parties, popping pills as teens and yet, they died just trying to live there lives refusing to give in until their last breath.
Watching Redmayne deteriorate as Hawking brought every single emotion I had experienced back to the forefront of my mid and the feelings that are usually kept tightly rained in suddenly came out of me like a flowing river of grief. I missed my friends, who were no longer here and felt pangs of guilt that there was simply nothing I could do for them while they were alive. I also wondered why medical sciences had failed my pals and pondered why they couldn’t be here like Stephen Hawking.
Closer to home, it shone a light on what it must be like for my family, and particularly my Mum watch Me fearlessly independent and sometimes stubborn, to the point where she can see the pain and the struggle I’m in on a regular basis. I know understand, why she is constantly saying ‘let me help you’ and sometimes instinctively doing something without asking if I can manage..
It also made me realise, just what a pressure caring for a person with a disability can be, whilst my disability is nowhere near the severity as Stephen’s. It requires a great deal of effort from my family to make it look easy that I’m dressed, washed and pain free. At the age of 27 my dear mum has to do a lot of jobs for me that, if I was able bodied would be an independent responsibility.
I realised it might not be as easy for my Mum as I think. Maybe I take her for granted? And maybe my Mum, like Jane has quietly struggled to cope with the demands of a disabled daughter in the past . My Mum would never say that she’s not coping, she and the rest of my family, loves me unconditionally but I would never demand that she isn’t allowed help, if she was struggling. I never want to become the girl that is a burden or the girl who’s mate’s visit because they feel they have to. I want them to visit because they want to.
Never the less, on the way home from the Cinema I felt the need to thank my Mum who is my primary carer, for everything she does and for not getting to fed up that I end up hanging out with her lots. I love her, and and wanted her to know that if she ever felt unable to cope, she could tell me.
I began to think ‘who on earth is going to want to marry me’ as I watched Stephen and Jane’s marriage disintegrate into friendship. When I eventually do marry, I don’t want my future husband to think he’s just my carer, I first and foremost want to learn be his wife, his lover and one half of a team that’s unbreakable.
Stephen Hawking is a personal hero to me, despite his barriers he is accepted as one of this world’s greatest minds, he seems to have a great mantra in life that I seem to find myself repeating this in times of struggle.
There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope