A Brief History of Time (1992): Movie Review

(in memory of one of the few truly interesting, great men of the current/recent eras)

(the excellent Criterion DVD with extras about the greatest scientist of our time who passed away today)

Still a very interesting, intriguing film after all these years. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking’s ideas and theories are the main attraction, but he has had an amazing life which included a fall down a long university staircase, an ALS diagnosis with continuing declining physical powers (paralleling the universe’s entropy he has studied), and surviving a car accident in which he was run over, but back at work the following week!

Everything about this movie is entertaining including interviews with his supportive mother and the scientists who know him well, Philip Glass’s remarkable film score written without seeing any of the movie’s scenes (!), and thoughtful direction by the ever-unconventional Errol Morris who makes the theoretical physics more exciting than a mere adaptation of theories from Hawking’s best-selling book.

There is no question that Hawking is a genius of consciousness since that is basically all that he has been left with plus his computer program clicker which enables him to communicate and speak via voice synthesizer. Is he a genius on a par with Newton and Einstein? I think you’d have to say yes because of how much he has made understandable about the universe and its processes: black holes, entropy, and the deep nature of time. He has one of the most brilliant imaginations and minds that has ever been, and Morris has gone a long way to helping us appreciate what Hawking and his ideas are about. Highly recommended.

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