Hmmm, I wonder how they're going to handle this one. It's a messy tale. In November, Focus Features will release a new movie, The Theory of Everything, which describes what happened to the young physicist Stephen Hawking back when he was a student, newly in love, not yet sick (but about to be) and at the very start of his storied science career. The script is based on a book by Jane Hawking, Stephen's first wife. Here's the trailer. Take a look, then we'll talk.
The trailer seems crazy sweet, very lovey-dovey, which, by all accounts, is how it was back in the early 1960s when they met. Jane was into literature. She would later get a Ph.D. in medieval Spanish poetry. Stephen was just 21, looking for an interesting physics problem to explore. Not long after they began dating, he developed balance problems, then speech issues, then was told that he had a fatal disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and would be dead in two years. Jane's friends warned her not to stick with a boy with so little life ahead of him. Stephen fell into a dark patch, spending hours listening to melancholic Richard Wagner music. But he and Jane didn't quit each other. Instead, they willfully pushed on.
"In spite of it all," Jane told reporter Tim Adams, in 2004, they decided that "everything was going to be possible. That Stephen was going to do his physics, and we were going to raise a wonderful family and have a nice house and live happily ever after."
With A 4-Minute Warning, Everything Ends
It wasn't like they didn't believe the diagnosis. They did. They just ignored it. She "did not want to think about that," she told Adams. "Also, we had this very strong sense at the time that our generation lived anyway under this most awful nuclear cloud — that with a four-minute warning the world itself could likely end. That made us feel above all that we had to do our bit, that we had to follow an idealistic course in life. That may seem naive now, but that was exactly the spirit in which Stephen and I set out in the '60s — to make the most of whatever gifts were given us."