“I have been lucky. Most of my work consists of thinking and my disabilities do not prevent me from doing so. In a way, they give me time to think,” said astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) shortly after his 20th birthday, it has been his personal story of overcoming and not so much his discoveries about black holes that has made him immensely popular. For a specialized minority, he is a star of theoretical physics; to most of society, he’s a pop icon, with his own Hollywood-style biopic. Documentary filmmaker Oliver Twinch, who specializes in scientific matters, decides to maintain that balance in Hawking, beyond science, a title that is part of the Movistar+ catalogue.
The love plot that centers the theory of everything, the 2014 film inspired by the memoir of his first wife, Jane, has this time his non-fictional answer. The director surrounds himself with personal testimonies about the Briton, who died in 2018. In this portrait, there are brushstrokes of colleagues such as Sir Roger Penrose, recent Nobel Prize in Physics, editors and disciples, but it is mainly made up of the people who formed part of your privacy. He not only gets Jane, her sister Mary, and their children Lucy, Robert, and Timothy to chat about him, but with seemingly brutal honesty.
Hawking’s determination, “able to move heaven and earth to achieve what he wanted,” says one of those testimonies, allowed him to break down all imaginable barriers despite facing all kinds of physical impediments. That same courage generated friction in the family, which she had formed with Jane, she tells herself on camera. In addition to marrying her illness, she also married her strict commitment to science. Their honeymoon was a convention held in New York. She and her children were traveling the world after their brilliant academic career and the fact that he refused to accept many of the limitations brought about by ALS complicated even the most daily experiences of all of them.
The story of Hawking, beyond science He emphasizes that the lack of communication that his condition imposed on him for years, until he got a robotic voice to express his ideas, already existed in his life before he lost his speech. It is what a neurologist defines Twinch as the conspiracy of silence, which comes when one and the other avoid dialogue and pretend a normality that does not exist. The silent burden that the care that allowed Hawking to be a miracle of (and for) science meant for his wife led her into several depressive episodes, he confesses with total candor.
The presence in the documentary of Jonathan Hellyer Jones, the widowed director of the local church choir who broke into the marriage to form a love triangle, later turned into a quartet, around which his three children lived, crowns this unfiltered biography. And for once in this extraordinary story something very mundane happened. Elaine, the caretaker younger than him who became his second wife, ended up at odds with his heirs. The viewer of this film will not learn much about the origin of the cosmos, but perhaps they will about some other mystery of life.
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