Movie Review: Hawking (2004)

Hawking (dir. Philip Martin, 2004) – At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which never impeded his ground-breaking work on the nature of the universe. 


Faithfully documenting famed physicist Stephen Hawking’s journey, this engaging biopic gains credibility in Benedict Cumberbatch’s fine performance.



In the first on-screen dramatisation of Stephen Hawking’s life, Hawking takes us through the famed physicist’s early years as a budding PhD student at Cambridge University. The BBC television film faithfully chronicles his undying persistence in his scientific endeavours, throughout the difficult years of his struggle with motor-neuron disease.

Depicting both his achievements in physics and his determination to overcome his condition, the moving story acquaints us with the man behind the science. Therein lies an emotional exploration of an enduring romance, in the form of his loving relationship with his first wife Jane Hawking.

An inspiration to many, Hawking persists in fighting his affliction with his unwavering passion. This comes through in both his career and marriage. Though a relatively condensed account, a layered script keep the audience engaged, but could not do wothout its powerful leading man.

No stranger to portraying real world figures in true stories, Benedict Cumberbatch had starred as several before his rendition of Sherlock Holmes in the modern 21st century. His standout performances in Van Gogh: Painted With Words and Stuart: A Life Backwards not only touched the hearts of many, but also showcased his versatility.

As the first actor to play the esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking on the silver screen, Cumberbatch’s task is a tremendous challenge. But the act that could easily be deemed unrealistic or undignified, instead turns out to be an extraordinary and respectful one. His adept craft never allows his portrayal to become anything close to a self-parody. Driven by his sincerity and credibility, his deeply moving performance effectually brings out Hawking’s tenacity, to hold onto hope and continue to inspire in spite of his deteriorating physicality.

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