Stephen Hawking has reached the ripe old age of 71. Given that he was told he had two to three years to live back in his early twenties, this is incredible. Indeed, it is looking increasingly likely that this remarkable man might end up dying of old age.
Stephen Finnigan’s feature-length documentary uses intimate archive footage – including Hawking home movies – and interviews with the people who know him best, to construct the story of a life that has proven unpredictable even in the face of ever-increasing physical limitations. It’s not impossible that Hawking’s condition might even have focused his formidable brain. ‘I was forced to travel through the universe in my mind,’ he remembers.
We end with his speech at the Paralympics opening ceremony, which was made impossibly moving by the knowledge that he has probably done more than anyone else to recalibrate our attitude to disabled people as not just equals in society but, in some cases, dauntingly high achievers.