Hawking at BAFTA

Having survived the chairing of our lengthy Progression and Award Board this morning here in Sussex, I thought I’d just spend a few minutes on the blog before going up to London for an event at the Royal Society this evening.

In fact I was in London for much of yesterday too, partly for a meeting relating to SEPNET but then later to attend a special Event for Fellows of the Institute of Physics at the plush premises of British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in Piccadilly:


The event was a special preview screening of the a feature length documentary called Hawking, about the life and career of celebrated British cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, followed by a question-and-answer session with the producer and director. There have been many films about Hawking already, but the distinctive thing about this one is that Hawking himself contributed to the script so, to some extent, it’s “in his own words”. It’s quite clear that it wasn’t meant so much as a science documentary as an unflinching look at Hawking’s struggle against Motor Neurone Disease, with his scientific work merely serving as background to the human interest story. It is, of course, a very moving narrative not only because of the hardship he has been forced to endure but also because of what he has achieved as a scientist in the face of difficulties that would have defeated persons of lesser determination.

I found the film interesting but a little frustrating because, while it raised many interesting issues (such as the conflict between celebrity and privacy), it moved on so quickly that none of them were really explored in any depth. I did strike me, however, as a very honest film – the discussion of the break-up of his first marriage was very candid, but it was nice to discover that in recent years Stephen and Jane have are at least on speaking terms again. Hawking’s sense of humour, which is often concealed by his disability, also came across very well. I could give an example of this from my own experience, but given the nature of the prank he played I think it’s better not to!

Anyway, I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to colour anyone’s judgement about the film, which doesn’t go on general release in the UK until later in the year. Go to see it yourself, and make your own mind up! In the meantime, here is the official trailer:

One Response to “Hawking at BAFTA”

  1. […] away to the doom and gloom of the ongoing bin strike towards a much cheerier subject: death. In the film about Stephen Hawking I saw last week there was a moving segment in which Hawking sought solace in music after being diagnosed with […]

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