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Friday, November 14, 2014

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (1991)

Elegant, witty, touching and occasionally understandable, Errol Morris’s film essay on cosmologist Stephen Hawking is as much life story as illustrated look at his theories. Hawking, prized for his Deep Space deep think, but famous for his long-term survival with ALS, is a subject fraught with unavoidable dangers and undeniable interest. No surprise then to find it recurring on screen in bio-pic form as THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING/’14. Scientifically, you may not come away with much more than a vague idea on how some energy manages to escape out of Black Holes, but a more substantial takeaway is probably æsthetic, tumbling not out of space, but out of Morris’s sheer visual delight in his subject & subject matter. Skirting digital illustration for a more painterly, even abstract approach, interspersed with personal interviews (beautifully lit by lenser John Bailey* in carefully controlled settings that look real, but are as synthetic as Hawking’s electronic speaking voice), the film easily holds your attention if not your train of thought.

DOUBLE-BILL: The bio-pic mentioned above should hit home formats in a few months. OR: *How wise & appropriate that cinematographer Bailey’s very next film was another meditation on the nature of time, GROUNDHOG DAY/’93.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: The book, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, has sold over 10 million copies . . . and been read by dozens.

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