Jane Hawking, the first wife of late physicist and author Stephen Hawking, has raised a few issues with the 2014 film, The Theory of Everything.
For many filmmakers, keeping to historical facts is of the utmost importance – especially when it involves the portrayal of a key moment in history on the big screen.
But, according to Jane Hawking, her own personal history hasn’t been dealt with such diligence in the 2014 film, The Theory of Everything.
“I knew if there were mistakes in the film that they were going to be immortalised, which they have been,” Hawking said during the Henley Literary Festival this week.
During the making of the movie – which tells the story of Stephen Hawking’s life – filmmaker James Marsh used her book, Travelling to Infinity, as a guide. However, historical inaccuracies were permitted in order to keep the running time to a minimum.
“I found that very irritating and I didn’t want it to happen. Don’t ever believe what you see in films,” Hawking said.
In the film, the plot revolves around the couple meeting in 1962 and the trials and tribulations they face over the next 30 years together as they have children, and learn to cope with Stephen’s rare disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Hawking has been especially “irritated” by the film’s inaccurate portrayal of how they met. As it turns out, they didn’t meet as students at Cambridge University; rather, they crossed paths in St. Albans when Jane was still at school.
“The film really only shows that part of our lives in Cambridge,” she said. “Our many foreign travels were ignored altogether – for example, our honeymoon was spent at a physics conference at Cornell University in upstate New York.”
She also said the film had failed to include the hardship involved with travelling from one place to another for Stephen’s work.
“I’m sorry to say that none of these extensive travels – with all the organising, packing for a family with a severely disabled member, transporting them, driving them, as well as the usual day-to-day care – really appears in The Theory of Everything,” she said.
“I asked for a frenzied fast-forward version – even simply getting all the suitcases, wheelchair and passengers in the car to represent this aspect of our lives – but I was told this was not possible because of the time constraints.”
When the film was first released, Hawking spoke of her onscreen character seemingly having no “friends or relations at all”. However, she did praise the performances by both Felicity Jones (Jane) and Eddie Redmayne (Stephen).