Story

The Theory of Everything is the story of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones). Stephen and Jane meet at the University of Cambridge where Stephen is doing a PhD and Jane is studying Arts. Stephen is already displaying some signs of a neurological disorder. When he has a major fall, which knocks him out, he is diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND). Despite this, and a dreadful short-term prognosis, Jane is determined to help Stephen through his illness.

They marry and have three children, although life is a great struggle for Stephen, whose condition worsens as the illness proceeds. With sheer determination, a brilliant mind and Jane’s support, Stephen continues his career and becomes a leader in the field of cosmology. Stephen and Jane separate after many years and Jane marries Jonathan (Charlie Cox), a man who has been a great supporter and friend of the family for some time.

Themes

Disability; relationships

Violence

The Theory of Everything shows no person-to-person violence, but there are disturbing scenes of accidental harm. For example:

  • Stephen trips and falls heavily on the pavement, which knocks him out.
  • Stephen chokes on food during a family meal.
  • Stephen collapses at a conference in Bordeaux and is rushed to hospital.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Theory of Everything has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Stephen is shown in hospital, pale and bruised. He has a tube in his mouth and a needle in his spine. Fluid is shown filling the syringe.
  • Stephen develops pneumonia and is rushed to hospital in Bordeaux. He is shown unconscious with tubes in his mouth. A doctor applies a knife to his throat to perform a tracheotomy.

From 5-8
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above and also by the way that Stephen becomes more and more disabled. For example, he has increasing difficulty walking and must use crutches. He slides himself up and down the stairs and also has trouble eating and feeding himself.

From 8-13
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above and also by the MND diagnosis itself. The doctor describes how Stephen will lose all use of his muscles, speech and all voluntary movement. At first doctors give Stephen only two years to live.

Over 13
Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

The Theory of Everything has some sexual references. For example:

  • People talk about someone being a homosexual.
  • A friend asks Stephen if MND affects his sexual function. Stephen replies that it uses a different system and that it’s ‘automatic’.
  • Stephen’s mother asks Jane who has fathered their third child – Stephen or Jonathan.
  • Stephen’s father demands that they get a proper nurse rather than having Jonathan help, because he thinks this is inappropriate.
  • Jane travels with Jonathan and the children to Bordeaux by car. During the night Jane goes to Jonathan’s tent.
  • A therapist shows Jonathan a Penthouse Magazine

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Theory of Everything shows some use of substances, including social drinking at a several events. 

Nudity and sexual activity

The Theory of Everything has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Jane and Stephen kiss and sleep together. Sex is implied but not shown.
  • A nude girl is briefly seen in the Penthouse Magazine.

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

The Theory of Everything has some mild coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Theory of Everything is a biographical drama that shows how Stephen Hawking’s indomitable spirit triumphs over the progressive, debilitating illness of MND. His success and achievements are phenomenal.

It is a moving and inspiring story that will appeal to older teenagers and adults. But it lacks interest for children under 13 years and has some scenes that might disturb children in this age group.

The main messages from this movie concern the strength of the human spirit and the potential of people to achieve greatness against all odds.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include determination, resilience, selflessness and the ability to see beyond outward appearances.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:

  • the challenges that all families face in overcoming difficulties
  • the importance of having understanding and empathy for people with disability.