The Theory of Everything
By Ronnie Tharp-Garber www.jcad18.org
Genres: Memoir/True Story/Drama/Romance
Script-O-Meter Rating: 8
Premise: When young brilliant Stephen Hawking has his first dance with a fellow student at Cambridge, he embarks upon a journey to understand not only ALS, but also the workings of the physical universe and ultimately, his heart.
The script writer could have chosen to focus on Hawking’s remarkable career as a physicist. Or perhaps the writer could focus on his disability and his attitude toward an illness that would most certainly leave him unable to function.
Instead, the writer chose to focus on the Romance/Drama aspect of this true story.
Although it’s not a true genre, Memoir/True Story is a methodology for writing a biography. Mixed with Drama, which shows the intimacy of characters in a web and a strong moral dilemma that “blows” in the Climax Sequence, the Memoir/True Story is like a detective story. Uncovering clues to a person’s psyche is the detective aspect of this genre. And when one uncovers enough clues and is able to arrive at “the truth,” what oftentimes happens is that “the truth” can be problematic.
In the case of The Theory of Everything, the wife of Stephen Hawking made the conscious, if not romantic decision to “stand by her man.” A religious woman by nature, this entered into her decision as well. After 25 years of devotion, with literally life-threatening decisions she had to make while a parent of three of their children, they end in divorce.
The flip or transcendence of the usual beats of a deteriorating marriage are as follows:
Stephen is not a disabled man in his heart or brain. His wife helped him to rise above that depression, which would have killed him had she not been by his side.
His wife is not just a “caregiver” bleeding heart, but rather, a deeply spiritual woman who rose above what most young women look for in a marriage partner. This giving nature caused her to grow with an enormous character arc. She walked away from what could have been a long adulterous relationship when Stephen’s life hung in the balance and she knew where her duties lay.
Stephen knew where her heart really was though after many years of marriage. He was saddened by it, but he had an enormous respect for his wife’s courage and strong moral values.
The third transcendence occurred when Stephen finds himself falling in love with his new caregiver. He is a man falling in love – not a disabled, helpless victim. This is new to him and it empowers him. The caregiver replaces his wife in emotional importance. It’s an evolution that is both poignant and painful at the same time. Both characters grow in wisdom and respect for one another.
The concept of “time” is woven into this script as a type of symbol. Whether time goes forward or backward is not of the essence. Time is only a chronological measure of growth and happiness. But the real measure is ephemeral and everlasting.
The two main characters go through a moral epiphany that is called a Double Reversal at the end of the story. Stephen pushed away the possibility to survive in the beginning. In the end, he believes that his horizons are endless. Jane was committed to a moral and ethical way of behavior with a man at any cost in the beginning. In the end, she allows herself to follow her heart and let go of Stephen, whom she has tenderly cared for.