A Brief History of Time | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

A Brief History of Time 

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While I can't vouch for the adequacy of this documentary as an adaptation of Stephen Hawking's best-selling book, this is my favorite picture by Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line) to date--a cogent and fascinating presentation of Hawking's theories about the origin and fate of the universe, intercut with an account of Hawking's fife (including how he has managed to cope with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). I find the material from the book much more important and fascinating than the inspirational life story; though interesting in its own right, it's a standard triumph-over-adversity scenario and it periodically threatens to trivialize Hawking's ideas and work. On the other hand, the alternation between Morris's usual talking-head approach for the biography and Hawking's computer-generated voice and various kinds of illustrations to recount most of the theory creates a dialectic that the film profits from stylistically. Philip Glass composed the music (1991). (Fine Arts)

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