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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Eddie Redmayne wins Oscar - The Theory of everything : Stephen Hawking

Eddie Redmayne has won the best actor Oscar.  Known as Oscars, the ‘Academy Awards’ -  given for  excellence of cinematic achievements is out now. This no post on ‘Oscar statuette’ but something I felt interesting on a film,  likes of which perhaps we may not get to see here.  Can you imagine a film being made on physical decline following a disease getting global recognition ?  The theme or rather hero is not an ordinary man, but one suffering from a peculiar disease !
Eddie with his wife arriving 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and Charcot disease, is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons.  The man spoken about suffers from a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of ALS  that has gradually paralysed him over the decades.  He had experienced increasing clumsiness during his final year at Oxford, including a fall on some stairs and difficulties when rowing.  The problems worsened, and his speech became slightly slurred;  the diagnosis of motor neurone disease came when Hawking was 21, in 1963; at that  time, doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years.  In the late 1960s,  his  physical abilities declined: he began to use crutches and ceased lecturing regularly.  As he slowly lost the ability to write, he developed compensatory visual methods, including seeing equations in terms of geometry.  He preferred to be regarded as "a scientist first, popular science writer second, and, in all the ways that matter, a normal human being with the same desires, drives, dreams, and ambitions as the next person."  His speech too deteriorated and  became unintelligible.

During a visit to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research on the border of France and Switzerland in mid-1985, he contracted pneumonia which in his condition was life-threatening; he was so ill that his wife was asked if life support should be terminated. She refused but the consequence was a tracheotomy, which would require round-the-clock nursing care, and remove what remained of his speech.  Years later, he received a computer program called the "Equalizer" from Walt Woltosz. In a method he uses to this day, using a switch he selects phrases, words or letters from a bank of about 2500–3000 that are scanned; and much later he  activated a switch using his hand and could produce up to 15 words a minute.  Lectures were prepared in advance and were sent to the speech synthesiser in short sections to be delivered. Even that could not last, as in 2005 he lost the use of his hand and began to control his communication device with movements of his cheek muscles,  with a rate of about one word per minute. One cannot read any further of the sufferings.

The Theory of Everything is a 2014 British biographical romantic drama film directed by James Marsh and adapted by Anthony McCarten from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which deals with her relationship with her ex-husband, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in physics.  The film stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones  and  had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in Sept.  2014.
The film received four Golden Globe Award nominations, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for Redmayne and Best Original Score.  Now, Eddie Redmayne has  received the Academy Award for Best Actor.  In the movie, Redmayne brilliantly captures Hawking's transition from a vivacious young man racing around on bikes to needing a cane, then two canes, and eventually being confined to a wheelchair. The actor told Live Science previously that he worked with dance choreographers and patients at an ALS clinic to get the physical poses just right. He also worked with a speech therapist to recreate Hawking's progressively garbled speech.  The British actor came to the Oscars the favourite after claiming the Screen Actors’ Guild’s best actor award last month. The winner of that award has gone on to pick up the best actor Oscar every year since 2003.
as portrayed on screen !

Jane Hawking, Stephen Hawking's former wife, on whose memoir the film The Theory of Everything is based, says that she was "astounded" at how realistic Felicity Jones' performance was. Ms Jones played Jane Hawking in the film. "I thought how can I be on the screen and in a cinema seat at the same time," Ms Hawking said. Although Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor award in the 2015 Oscars on Sunday for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking, Felicity Jones missed out on the Best Actress award.

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (1942)  is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Feb 2015.

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