“Come with me and I will tell you the story of how I became who I am.”
With those words, spoken through a custom-built computer and software controlled by the faintest movements of his cheek and eye muscles, 72-year-old physicist Stephen Hawking takes us on a journey through his own life. In this, his first autobiographical film, we see the the precocious child of free-thinking, Oxford-educated parents become an indolent wunderkind at Cambridge University and then, after both true love and a degenerative neurological disease take hold of him, the world-famous theoretical physicist and best-selling author that he is today.
Released by PBS, “Hawking” is the story of one of the world’s most well-known scientists, a man who has become as famous for his discoveries about the nature of the universe as he has for his illness, which has left him wheelchair-bound for most of his 72 years. But despite the loss of use of his body — or perhaps because of it — Hawking’s mind has remained free to roam the cosmos, investigating its deepest secrets through an incredible power of will, imagination, and mathematics.
But “Hawking” isn’t about endless numbers and brain-numbing equations. It’s about the man himself, and how he became who he is today and overcame the challenges that life placed along his way. It’s a fascinating tale of a brilliant man who, through his own resolve as well as the devotion of those he brought close to him, opened a window onto the universe for the entire world.
Find out how you can win a copy of Hawking on DVD below:
“He is one of those very few people who can see beyond the borders of current knowledge, and can see the way things work,” says one close friend of Hawking. “He will carry on until they push him underground,” says another. And, once you watch the video, you’ll see why.
The film offers rare insights into Hawking’s life, past and present, aided by a cast of stellar contributors and Hawking fans, including astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., actors Jim Carrey and Benedict Cumberbatch, mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. “Hawking” tracks the physicist’s life story, told largely in his own words. It includes dramatic accounts of his life from childhood through university; intimate footage of Hawking today, including his home routine and his work life at the University of Cambridge; archival footage; and candid comments from family members, friends and colleagues. Computer-generated imagery illustrates some of Hawking’s remarkable discoveries, such as the nature of black holes and the so-called “Big Bang” theory that explains the origins of the universe.
“This film is a personal journey through my life, told in my own words, that shows the story of how I became who I am today. It has been a lot of fun and also very strange to see myself depicted in so many ways,” said Hawking. “I think it is important to realize we only have a very short time alive and should make the best of it. Despite my disabilities, I will always keep wondering about the mysteries of the universe.”
I admit that I didn’t really know all that much about Stephen Hawking before watching this, and I haven’t even read his most famous book A Brief History of Time. (Something that I plan on remedying very soon!) So much of this was new to me. I was impressed by the film’s delving into his personal life as much as it did, and it was nice to have so much of it told by Hawking himself. He has an incredible wit and observational talent, and is as well-known by acquaintances for his sense of humor today as he was as an undergraduate at Cambridge. I would have liked to perhaps learned more about his discoveries, but then again, this film was made to reveal more about the scientist than the science. And that it does very well.
Want to win a copy on DVD? Email me at lightsinthedark “at” me “dot” com and include “Hawking” in the subject line. I’ll choose five winners at the end of the week to receive a copy from PBS — good luck! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only, please.) Note: contest has ended.