Skip to main content

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME

UK, 1991 (MIFF 1992, Documentaries)

Director: Errol Morris

From Errol Morris, the director of the daz­zling The Thin Blue Line, comes this won­drous and wonder-filled joumey into the life and work of Professor Stephen Hawking, the world-famous physicist and popular author.

Like in the earlier film, Morris rejects the traditional orthodoxies of documentary film­making for an approach that is highly stylized, mediated and interpretative. Loosely built around interviews with Hawking's family and colleagues, the film's true subject is Hawking's fascinating theories about 'black holes', real and imaginary time and the infinitude of the universe. As 'unfilmable' as these topics may seem, Morris succeeds, with the help of optical and special effects, at demonstrating the mys­teries that have preoccupied Hawking for more than two decades.

At the centre of the mystery is Hawking himself. Shortly after his 20th birthday, he was diagnosed as having amyotrophic lateral scle­rosis, an incurable disease which leads to com­plete paralysis, all the while leaving the patient in full control of his or her intellectual capaci­ties. Though he was expected to live only two more years. Hawking embarked on his seminal work, eventually writing and communicating with the outside world (and Morris) with the help of a unique word processor.

The elaborately crafted film was pho­tographed by John Bailey and Stefan Czapsky and scored by Philip Glass.

See also...

TABLOID

Sex, crime, religion and flavoured lube - the interview subject of Errol Morris's new documentary possess a personality as outrageous as the story she tells. ... Joyce McKinney was just an ordinary ... More »

FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL

Errol Morris' amazing, eccentric documentary is yet another satisfying chapter in the filmography of a self-confessed obsessive/compulsive who is never happier than when he is recording the lives of ... More »

MR. DEATH: THE RISE AND FALL OF FRED A. LEUCHTER, JR.

"I sleep very well at night, knowing that those persons that are executed with my equipment have a better chance of a painless, more humane and dignified execution."—Fred A. Leuchter Jr ... More »

In the Kingdom of the Unabomber

Gary Greenberg was a Unabomber groupie. He was in constant contact by phone and mail with Ted Kaczynski. one of the FBI's Most Wanted, before his arrest on multiple explosives and firearms charges ... More »

You're Soaking In It

After her stepson's tragic shotgun suicide. Joan Dougherty was inspired to start a company that specialises in cleaning crime scenes. With amazing good humour, Dougherty relates the typically bizarre ... More »

Mr Debt

Credit Card maxxed out? Can't keep up the mortgage? Collection agents knocking at your door? Call Andrew Capoccia and within a couple of months the bank could owe you money! A white knight for the ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director