Stephen Finnigan / UK / 2013 / 86 mins
Last summer’s Paralympic Games brought to the spotlight the incredible capabilities of people, despite being disabled. Using dramatic reconstructions and interviews with friends, family and colleagues and a narration from Stephen Hawking himself, Stephen Finnigan’s documentary depicts the life of the world-renowned professor; his academically promising childhood, his controversial and revolutionary discoveries, dealing with his motor neuron disease and his eventual international recognition as an icon for both science and disability.
As Hawking talks us through his existence, it’s clear that like most people excelling in a particular field, he’s an obsessive; with even his wife Jane saying they shared their marriage with physics. Finnigan contrasts the public life of the figure; gaining accolades and fame, with his private life; limited in his ability to raise his children and the strains his condition took on Jane. His portrayal of the scientist shows a man armed with both a fierce intelligence and an unrelenting determination balanced with but what’s most striking about him is his humour, even contributing to a skit with Jim Carrey. Touching and affecting throughout, it’s the great admiration shown by all those interviewed that best reflect the positive influence that Hawking has made on the world, not only for his discoveries, but as reminder that a disability isn’t necessarily a limitation for achievement.
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