Monday, February 16, 2015

The Theory of Everything: a brief history of love ~

We all know Stephen Hawking, one way or the other. A shrunk man with a twisted face, with a permanent grimace on his face, deep inside a wheelchair, with an assortment of screens and instruments all around him, helping him to communicate. 

He is a part of our consciousness even if we are not always sure what he is famous for - something to do with black holes? A physicist? Has he won the Nobel Prize? Almost certainly we know him for The Brief History of Time, which is lying unread in our bookshelves. 

We know the challenge of being Hawking, and the triumph of a spirit which makes the mind go ahead even when the body refuses to assist. 

But you know what the other, and possibly bigger, challenge is? Of the people who dedicate their lives to such a person.

Jane Wilde and Stephen were in love before illness befell him. He tried hard to keep her away as doctors had given him a life expectancy of a mere two years. But it requires a woman in love to be ready to do anything for love. Stephen's father told Jane "This is not going to be a fight, it's going to be a heavy defeat for all of us." But she insisted, saying at least they would have two years. Jane had the courage to take this huge leap into darkness.

The film is their story. And how he goes from bad to worse in the body, and better and better in his mind. And she goes from softness to determination to burdened to exasperation to bitterness. The arcs of life and love and passion are encapsulated in their stories. 

They were not always rich -  and the burden of Stephen, and soon their three children, began telling on her. He was strong in his frailties, and she was fragile in her strengths. Love can't be burdened too much - it breaks. And when the innocence of the first flush is lost, it is often found by someone else. And here, it turned out to be a nurse, Elaine. And she saw the essence of Stephen, which Jane, burdened as she was with life, had lost. 

The film glows and shimmers in the land of endeavor and achievements,  and then delves gently into the land of frailities like the ebb of love, infidelity, separation, discovery and rediscovery.

Eddie Redmayne is astonishing as Hawking. Nothing, nothing at all, can make you feel it is any one other than the physicist, in front of you. But it is Felicity Jones as Jane who forms the determined - and ultimately human -counterpoint around which Hawking's character is built. 

Life is stranger then fiction. After you come back from the film (and only then) read what further happens to Jane and Elaine. Life can be cruel to love. 

No comments: