“A wonderful history of time”, genius put to the test of disease

A wonderful history of time

Friday at 11:05 p.m. on France 3

In Cambridge in 1963, Stephen Hawking, a cosmology student, and Jane Wilde, a language student, fell head over heels for each other. At 21, Stephen seems to have a bright future. But suddenly a terrible news arises: suffering from a degenerative disease of his motor neurons (called Charcot’s disease in France), he will lose control of his movements, but also of his speech, his swallowing, his breathing, etc.

→ READ. The three major discoveries of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking

Doctors estimate her life expectancy at just two years. Jane convinces him to live the remaining time as intensely as possible. They get married and have their first child. Stephen is supporting his doctorate as his physical condition deteriorates.

An extraordinary personality

How to carry out the biography of a “brain” endowed with an invalid body? A wonderful history of time, based on Jane Hawking’s autobiographical book, takes the form of a moving love story. The treatment chosen by the director James Marsh for this film released in 2015, before the scientist’s disappearance in 2018, is resolutely Hollywood: the seduction by verbal jousting full of humor between two extremely talented young people, in the romantic setting of the University of Cambridge, the happiness and then the difficulties of the couple when Stephen’s field of mobility is restricted while his capacity for abstraction and his notoriety expand.

If the film largely evades the way in which Jane (the luminous Felicity Jones) must give up her intellectual ambitions, it shows the progression of Stephen’s handicap (the astonishing Eddie Redmayne) to almost total paralysis. Jane stays on course for a long time with a love that makes it possible to endure the unbearable. From the quest for an equation that would explain the universe to his work on black holes or the singularity of space-time, the film also evokes the research of a scientist who did not hesitate to defeat his own theories.


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