Saturday, December 23, 2023

Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking is known to dislike this film as there was too much personal information.  The film was based on his book.  Meant to explain complicated science theories to help ordinary people to understand.  This blog is affected by a special feature to the DVD and also a children's book that had other information.

He was sympathetic to the disabled.  He died in 2018, but had been involved with the 2012 Paralympics and was quoted "We are all different there is no such thing as a standard or run of the mill human being, but we share the same human spirit.  Look up at the stars and not down at your feet."...."However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at."  Check

There was discussion about black holes and the big bang.  Stephen felt that big question was whether or not there was a beginning to the universe or not.  If there was, there was a possibility of a creator, but also there would be an end.  If there was no beginning there was no creator and no end. He joked that he would not be alive to be disproved.   

There was discussion about time travel, but Stephen seemed sceptical.  I read that he once held a party and a week later invited people to attend and as nobody had he felt that disproved time travel.

Errol Morris director argued with Hawking about biographical issues, but Stephen helped complete film with access to his voice synthesizer.  Errol made one edit change that caught Stephen off guard, but okayed.  Filmed just as Stephen formally split with wife and and moved in with Elaine Mason, one of his nurses.  This spooked many of the prospective interviewees, some of whom refused to co-operate.  Would ask Stephen's contacts questions and when not given the answer he wanted would sit in silence with camera rolling and usually got a more interesting response.

Steven Spielberg was an uncredited executive producer.  He has been a producer, writer, and director.winning 3 Oscars. His film credits include "E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988) "Schindler's List" (1993), "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), "Lincoln" (2012) and "West Side Story" (2021).      

Philip Glass provided the music.  He once transcribed music from Ravi Shankar for a French film.  He has 180 composing credits including  "The Hours" (2003), "Elena" (2011), "When the Dragon Swallowed the Sin" (2014), "Leviathan"(2014) and "Jane" (2017).

John Bailey was a cinematographer.  He is credited with the development of two zoom lenses.  He once expressed the sentiment that cinematographers needed to focus on script and characters as much as camera techniques and style.  With 86 credits including "Ordinary People" (1980), "Groundhog Day" (1993), "Nobody's Fool" (1994), "The Greatest" (2009), "The Big Miracle" (2012) "The Way, Way Back" (2013) and "A Walk in the Woods" (2015).

Brad Fuller did the editing.  He has 25 credits including "He Called Me Malala" (2015).  I actually met her father at a book talk (and bought the book) in Hamilton.  Check

The action was really a series of Stephen's acquaintances being interviewed by Errol Morris and some graphics.

Isobel Hawking Hawking, Stephen's mother talked about his childhood.  She paraphrased a quote from Samuel Johnson that originally went "Depend upon it sir when a man knows he is to hanged in a fortnight it concentrates the mind wonderfully" recognizing that because Stephen had been diagnosed as having only a short time to live he was able to direct his intelligent mind to understand some big questions.  Stephen thanked Erroll Morris for making his mother a star.  Errol believed she played a critical role with Stephen. One must add that his wife Jane Wilde took care of him and their children so that he didn't have to worry about such things.

I would note that the ability to communicate was what allowed us to learn about his thinking.  I had thought the inventions that allowed him to choose words (very slowly and carefully) and to use a synthesizer  to voice his words had been invented originally for him.  A computer expert with a mother-in-law with the same debilitating disease had developed a system so she could talk. 

Stephen Hawking did "talk" to us using the original voice synthesizer.  He did not want the film to be bogged down with complicated scientific explanations so simplified his explanations.

Roger Penrose and John Wheeler were among several scientists who had worked with Stephen.  All the dialogue (except Stephen himself) was unscripted.

I watched this (a second time) from a DVD picked up from local library.  As usual I have bolded the first mention of a film I have seen.

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