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The Theory of Everything (2014 film)

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The Theory of Everything
Theory of Everything.jpg
Directed byJames Marsh
Produced byTim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Lisa Bruce
Anthony McCarten
Screenplay byAnthony McCarten
Based onTravelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen
by Jane Wilde Hawking
StarringEddie Redmayne
Felicity Jones
Charlie Cox
Emily Watson
Simon McBurney
David Thewlis
Christian McKay
Music byJóhann Jóhannsson
CinematographyBenoît Delhomme
Edited byJinx Godfrey
Production
company
Distributed byFocus Features
Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • 7 September 2014 (TIFF)
  • 1 January 2015(United Kingdom)
Running time
123 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$15 million[3]
Box office$46.6 million[3]
The Theory of Everything is a 2014 British biographical romantic drama film[4] directed by James Marsh and adapted by Anthony McCarten from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which deals with her relationship with her ex-husband, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in physics.[5]
The film stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones with Charlie CoxEmily WatsonSimon McBurneyChristian McKay, and David Thewlis featured in supporting roles. The film had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2014. It received four Golden Globe Award nominations, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for Redmayne and Best Original Score. The film also received five Academy Award nominations, including Best PictureBest Actor for Redmayne and Best Actress for Jones.

Plot[edit]

In 1963, while attending a party, astrophysics student Stephen Hawking meets Jane Wilde, a fellow student at Cambridge University who is studying literature. Both are working for their PhDs. The two bond during the night, and Jane gives Stephen her phone number. Although Stephen excels at mathematics and physics, his friends and professor are concerned over the lack of a topic for his thesis. Stephen does not focus on this, instead he concentrates on his relationship with Jane, and they attend a ball together. Stephen and his professor go to a lecture on black holes, where Stephen first notices he is not able to walk very quickly. Stephen begins to wonder about black holes, and speculates that they may have been a part of the creation of the universe. Stephen tells Jane his theory, and that he wishes to wind back the clock to the beginning of the universe to see what happened. While pursuing his research, Stephen's muscles begin to give out while walking, causing him to fall and hit his head, concerning his friends and fellow students. Visiting the hospital, the doctor tells him that he has motor neuron disease, and that although his brain will remain unchanged, his muscles will soon be uncontrollable and that he will be unable to walk, talk,swallow or move most of his body. He is told that he has approximately two years to live.
As he starts becoming reclusive, Jane, along with Stephen's friend, Brian, attempt to get Stephen out of his room, Jane tells Stephen that she loves him. Jane talks with Stephen's parents, who explain the full situation to her, Jane says that she will stick by Stephen. Cheered up by Jane and his friends, Stephen tells his professor that his thesis paper will be about time. When asked ‘what about time?’, Stephen merely responds ‘time’. Soon after, Stephen and Jane marry and soon have a son. Stephen's ability to talk has become progressively worse due to the motor neuron disease. When he finally presents his thesis to the examination board that a black hole was responsible for the creation of the universe, they tell him, although there are some errors, his theory is revolutionary, and he is awarded his doctorate. However, while celebrating with Jane and his friends, Stephen realises he is now unable to walk, and he becomes dependent on a wheelchair.
After having a second child, a daughter, Stephen has a theory about the visibility of black holes. He presents his theory at a lecture where the professors are astounded that Stephen has discovered what none of them had been able to. This leads to Stephen beginning to become a world-renowned physicist, which he and Brian celebrate that night. Stephen soon gets an electric wheel chair, allowing him to move around with the limited hand function he has left, and begins to play with his children again. However, while focusing on her kids, Stephen's health, and his increasing fame, Jane is unable to get work done on her own thesis paper, leading to her frustration. After visiting his parents, Jane tells Stephen about her spiraling depression, and he says he understands if she needs help. At the suggestion of her mother, she joins the church choir, where she meets a handsome conductor named Jonathan. She and Jonathan become close friends, and she employs him as a piano teacher for her son. Jane, Jonathan, and Stephen soon have dinner together, Stephen and Jonathan becoming friends as well. He soon becomes a friend of the entire family, helping Stephen with his illness, supporting Jane, and playing with the children.
Soon afterwards, Jane becomes pregnant with a third child. After giving birth, they once again visit Stephen's parents, bringing Brian and Jonathan along. Stephen's parents see how Jonathan gets along so well with the Hawkings, and ask Jane if the baby is his. Jane is appalled that they would think so, but sees that Jonathan overheard the conversation. Jane tries to stop him from leaving, and while the two are alone outside, Jonathan admits that he has feelings for her. Jane admits she has feelings for him as well. Jonathan then stays away from the family for a while, but Stephen visits him, saying that Jane needs him.
With his fame increasing, Stephen is invited to a concert in Bordeaux. While he is attending, Jane and Jonathan take the children camping. However, while in France, Stephen contracts pneumonia, Jane quickly visits the hospital. The doctors tell Jane that the only way to save him is with a tracheotomy, which will render Stephen speechless. She tells them to operate anyway. Stephen becomes depressed soon afterwards, along with Jane who says goodbye to Jonathan for what she believes is the final time. Hiring a nurse, Elaine, Stephen begins to use a spelling board, and uses it to communicate with the nurse. The two get along well, and Stephen soon buys a computer with a voice synthesizer built in, which responds to clicks from Stephen, he is able to use it to speak at an almost normal pace again. Stephen uses this to write a book, A Brief History of Time, which becomes an international best-seller. One day however, Stephen tells Jane that he has been invited to America to accept an award, and he will be taking Elaine with him. Jane is upset that Stephen has not told her, and this becomes the trigger for Jane and Stephen’s realisation they can no longer remain married to each other.
Stephen goes to a lecture with Elaine, the two having fallen in love. At the same time Jane goes to see Jonathan, the two reuniting as well. While at his lecture in America, where he is introduced by his old professor, Stephen sees a student in the front of the room drop a pen off of her desk. Stephen imagines himself getting up to return it, almost crying at the reminder of how his disease has affected him. However, he presses on, and gives a inspiring speech about human endeavour, the audience giving him a standing ovation. Soon after, while Jane and Jonathan are living together, Jane receives a letter from Stephen inviting her to meet the Queen with him. Jane and Stephen reunite as they meet her, the two happily talking in the courtyard. Stephen and Jane look out to see their children playing, Stephen joyfully typing "look what we made."
In a final scene, the film rewinds to the moment Stephen and Jane first met, mirroring Stephen's wish that he would like to reverse time itself to see what happened at the beginning of the universe. The closing text states that Jane and Jonathan later married, and that Jane and Stephen remain close friends to this day.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

"That's really the essence of the story, it's a very unusual love story in a very strange environment, a very strange sort of landscape, and that is I think the abiding theme of the film. It is how these two characters, these two real people transcend all the complications and curveballs that life throws at them."
James Marsh, speaking of the film's nature[8]
Screenwriter Anthony McCarten had been interested in Hawking since reading his seminal book A Brief History of Time in 1988. In 2004, McCarten read Jane Hawking's memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen and subsequently began writing a screenplay adaptation of the book with no guarantees in place. He met numerous times with Jane at her home to discuss the project. After multiple drafts, he was introduced in 2009 to producer Lisa Bruce via their mutual ICM agent, Craig Bernstein.[9]
Lisa Bruce spent three years with McCarten further convincing Jane Hawking to agree to a film adaptation of her book, with Bruce stating, "It was a lot of conversation, many glasses of sherry, and many pots of tea." [10] On 18 April 2013, James Marsh was confirmed to direct the film with the shooting being based in Cambridge and at other locations in the United Kingdom, with Eddie Redmayne courted to fill the male lead of the piece.[11] On 23 June 2013, it was revealed that Jones was confirmed to play the film's female lead role opposite Redmayne.[12][13] On 8 October 2013, it was confirmed that Watson and Thewlis had joined the cast,[14] and that Working Title's Tim BevanEric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten would be producing the piece.[15]
Filmmaker Marsh had studied archival images to give the film its authenticity, stating, "When we had photographs and documentary footage of Stephen that related to our story, we tried to reproduce them as best we could." [16] Redmayne met with Hawking himself, commenting, "Even now, when he's unable to move, you can still see such effervescence in his eyes." And described portraying Hawking on-screen as a "hefty" challenge, adding that, "The real problem with making a film is of course you don’t shoot chronologically. So it was about having to really try and chart his physical deterioration [so] you can jump into it day-to-day, whilst at the same time keeping this spark and wit and humour that he has."[16]
Redmayne spent six months researching Hawking's life, watching every interview footage he could find on him.[17] Marsh stated that what Redmayne had to do was not easy. "He had to take on enormous amounts of difficult preparation as well as embracing the difficult physicality of the role. It's not just doing a disability. It's actually charting the course of an illness that erodes the body, and the mind has to project out from that erosion," he said. He added that Hawking gave him his blessing and also revealed that, "[Hawking's] response was very positive, so much so that he offered to lend his voice, the real voice that he uses. The voice you hear in the latter part of the story is in fact Stephen's actual electronic voice as he uses it" he said.[8] It was revealed to the Toronto International Film Festival audience that as the lights came up at a recent screening, a nurse had wiped a tear from Hawking's cheek.[17]
Jane Hawking, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, spoke of meeting Felicity Jones several times while Jones prepared for the role. When she saw the finished film she was amazed to see that Jones had incorporated her mannerisms and speech patterns into her performance.

Filming[edit]


Part of the filming in Cambridge took place at St John's College
By 8 October 2013, principal photography had begun, with the shooting being based in Cambridge and at other locations in the United Kingdom.[18] Prior to the start of principal photography, Working Title had begun shooting on the lawn in front of the New Court building from 23 September 2013 to 27 September 2013; they filmed the Cambridge May Ball scene, set in 1963.[19] On 24 September 2013, scenes were filmed at St John’s CollegeThe Backs in Queen’s Road and Queen’s Green.[20] The New Court lawn and Kitchen Bridge were included features in the filming location of the piece. The May Ball scene was the last of the outside shoots, with filming in a lecture theatre the following day and the remaining filming completed in the studio over the final 5 weeks of the production.[21]
The pyrotechnic specialists Titanium Fireworks, who developed the displays for the London 2012 Olympic Games, provided three identical firework displays for the May Ball scene.[21][22]

Music[edit]

Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson scored The Theory of Everything. His score in the film has been described as including, "[Jóhannsson's] signature blend of acoustic instruments and electronics." And when spoken to on the matter of the score Jóhannsson said, "It always involves the layers of live recordings, whether it's orchestra or a band or solo instrument, with electronics and more soundscape-y elements which can come from various sources." [23] The soundtrack was recorded at Abbey Road.[24]

Post-production[edit]

During editing filmmakers tried to remake Hawking's synthesized voice, but it didn't turn out as they wanted. However, after Stephen Hawking said to the filmmakers that he enjoyed the film so much, he granted them permission to use his own synthesized voice which is used in the final film.

Release[edit]

The Theory of Everything premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2014,[25] where it opened in the official sidebar section, Special Presentations.[26][27]
On 10 April 2014, Focus Features acquired the distribution rights to The Theory of Everything in the United States, with the plan of a 2014 limited theatrical release.[28] Shortly after, Entertainment One Films picked up the Canadian distribution rights.[29] The first trailer of the film was released on 7 August 2014.[30][31] On 8 October 2013, Universal Pictures International had acquired the rights to distribute the film internationally.[15]
The film had a limited release in the United States on 7 November 2014,[32] expanded in successive weeks to Taiwan, Austria, and Germany,[33] ahead of a United Kingdom release on 1 January 2015, before being released throughout Europe.[34]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film had a North American limited release on 7 November 2014; it was released in five theatres and earned $207,000 on its opening weekend, for an average of $41,400 per theatre. Focus's head of distribution Jim Orr said, "We are very, very pleased," he added, "It's resonating with audiences and the [exit] surveys we conducted showed that [the film] played very well across all demographics. It has outstanding performances with great direction by James Marsh. I believe the performances, the film itself and the director will be getting Academy attention."[35] The film was then widely released on November 26 across 802 theatres, earning $5 million and debuting at No. 7 at the Box Office. During its five day Thanksgiving week, the film earned $6.4 million.[36] As of January 11, 2015, the film has earned almost $26 million in the domestic territory, and a further $20 million in international markets for a worldwide total of $46 million. [3]

Critical reception[edit]

Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 200 reviews with an average score of 7.3/10. The site's consensus states: "Part biopic, part love story, The Theory of Everything rises on James Marsh's polished direction and the strength of its two leads."[37][38] Metacritic, assigned the film a weighted average score of 72 (out of 100) based on 47 reviews from critics, considered to be "generally favorable".[39]
The Theory of Everything received highly positive reviews from critics - particularly for Redmayne's acting and Delhomme's cinematography. Catherine Shoard of The Guardian wrote, "Redmayne towers: this is an astonishing, genuinely visceral performance which bears comparison with Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot." [40] Lou Lumenick, in his review for The New York Post, called the film "tremendously moving and inspirational." [41] Justin Chang of Varietynoted praise, remarking, "A stirring and bittersweet love story, inflected with tasteful good humor ..." He continued by praising the "superb performances" from Redmayne and Jones, as well commenting very positively about Johansson's score, "whose arpeggio-like repetitions and progressions at times evoke the compositions of Philip Glass", whilst praising John Paul Kelly's production design and Steven Noble's costumes.[42] Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter remarked, "A solid, duly moving account of their complicated relationship, spanning roughly 25 years, and made with impeccable professional polish", praising Delhomme's cinematography as having "lush, intricately lit compositions" and adding "a splendor that keeps the film consistently watchable", and Johannsson's score as "dainty precision with a ineffable scientific quality about it."[43] The Daily Telegraph '​s Tim Robey granted the film a positive review, stating that, "In its potted appraisal of Hawking's cosmology, The Theory of Everything bends over backwards to speak to the layman, and relies on plenty of second-hand inspiration. But it borrows from the right sources, this Theory. And that's something" while praising Redmayne's performance, McCarten's script, and Delhomme's cinematography.[44] Deadline.com '​s Pete Hammond marked McCarten's script and Marsh's direction for praise, and of the film's Toronto reception, wrote: "To say the response here was rapturous would not be understating the enthusiasm I heard — not just from pundits but also Academy voters with whom I spoke. One told me he came in with high expectations for a quality movie and this one exceeded them."[45]
The film was not without its detractors. Some criticized Marsh's focus on Hawking's romantic life. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap stated that "Hawking's innovations and refusal to subscribe to outdated modes of thinking merely underscore the utter conventionality of his film biography."[46] Eric Kohn of Indiewire added that "James Marsh's biopic salutes the famous physicist's commitment, but falls short of exploring his brilliant ideas."[47] Dennis Overbye of the New York Times noted that "the movie doesn't deserve any prizes for its drive-by muddling of Dr. Hawking's scientific work, leaving viewers in the dark about exactly why he is so famous. Instead of showing how he undermined traditional notions of space and time, it panders to religious sensibilities about what his work does or does not say about the existence of God, which in fact is very little."[48] Writing for The Guardian's film blog, Michelle Dean argues that the film does a disservice to Jane Wilde Hawking by "rearrang[ing] the facts to suit certain dramatic conventions...The Theory of Everything is hell-bent on preserving the cliche."[49]
The film's producers, writer, director Marsh, and actors Redmayne and Jones are widely favoured for award season success.[26][45][50][51]

Accolades[edit]

The Theory of Everything received several awards and nominations following its release. At the 87th Academy Awards, it has been nominated in the categories of Best PictureBest Actor for Redmayne, Best Actress for Jones, Best Adapted Screenplay for McCarten, and Best Original Score for Jóhann Jóhannsson. The film was nominated for ten British Academy Film Awards,[52] five Critics' Choice Movie Awards,[53] and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.[54] At the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, Redmayne won Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and Jóhannsson won Best Original Score. The film and Jones were also nominated. Production designer John Paul Kelly earned a nomination for Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film from the Art Directors Guild,[55] while the producers were nominated for Best Theatrical Motion Picture by the Producers Guild of America.[56]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up ^ "THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (12A)"British Board of Film Classification. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
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External links[edit]