1. The theory of everything
The plot of the film is about the well known physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking and his wife. The film score is written by the Icelandic composer Johann Johannson.
The first theme, which is also the Hawkin’s theme and can be heard in different versions throughout the film, starts with a calm circular piano theme with a hopeful, somewhat curious sounding character. After a few bars some strings can be heard, playing a 4 – part underlying chord progression. The music suddenly swells to include a whole orchestra, still mainly working with the theme from the beginning.
During this track a scene of the young Stephen Hawking can be seen, cycling with some friends. Knowing the progress of the film as well as Hawkins’ life, once the rest of the orchestra joins in, the theme suddenly becomes a sad undertone, but the hopeful character of the piano part from the beginning can still be heard. This doesn’t only perfectly represent the mood of the beginning scene, but also provides the audience with a small view of the rest of the film.
The second time this theme can be heard, it’s played much slower, and in a minor key. Within the scene one can see Hawking struggling to get up the stairs for the first time. A sense of stuggle is especially created through the tremolo strings and partially dissonant chords.
A further leitmotif is about Hawkin’s wife Jane and her struggles with the progression of his illness. Apart from the ending theme, this one is probably one of the most memorable themes. It always appears whenever Jane is in focus of the film. It appears for the first time when she asks Hawkins to play Crockett and she notices how difficult it is for him to move. As well as Hawkin’s theme, this one also involves a circular piano theme accompanied by chords played by the strings. The same theme appears slightly later without the piano part again, putting more focus on the strings.
One of the most interesting moments for the usage of the film music was when diegetic music was used as an ending and start for another theme. This was firstly used, when Jane asks a friend, who leads the chapel choir to teach her son to play the piano. A warm theme, which mainly focuses on the piano but also involves instruments can be heard, and with a change of scene moves on to just being played on the piano within the film. This happens again in a reversed way later on, when Jane asks to divorce Hawkins and goes to the Church to find the piano teacher, who plays the same theme on the piano again, which then switches to being a part of the background music again.
Most of these themes seem to be part of the most emotional ans strongest theme of the film, which only comes at the very end. I found the way of using this theme incredibly interesting. Even though, it would have made a perfect entry for the film as well as a strong letimotif for Hawkins, Johannson created a conclusion only at the end of the film to which all of the given themes have worked towards.
In comparison to other films the themes above as well as several more where only used very shortly, most of the film was without any music at all. Every now and then I thought, that some scenes where too quiet and could have done with slightly more music to create a better effect for the audience. Nevertheless, I overall had the impression, that Johannson perfectly captured the scenes and thought it was interesting to see how he developed the given themes throughout the film.