Archetypes: Film: ‘The Theory of Everything’ (2014)

Focus Features

Focus Features

From the time he was a young man, cosmologist Stephen Hawking was obsessed with the notion that time had a beginning. In 1988 he even published a book on the topic, A Brief History of Time. Not surprisingly, then, the predominant archetype in the Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything is Saturn, whose domain is structure, aging, obstruction, persistence and, yes, time itself.

Directed by James Marsh, the movie reveals Stephen’s (Eddie Redmayne) scholarly ambitions quickly. In the early 1960s, at a freshmen social event at Cambridge University, he meets and is immediately attracted to Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), on whose 2008 memoir the movie is based. That evening he tells her he’s looking for a unified theory, a single equation that will explain everything in the universe.

“I hope you find your equations,” she says. But what follows, in short order, is loss. Stephen, who had experienced a few incidents of escalating clumsiness, is diagnosed with ALS, a motor neuron disease, and given two years to live. At Jane’s urging, they marry, and his condition rapidly deteriorates. The foundations of his genius remained unaffected. But his body and Saturnine structural support system of spinal vertebrae shrivel into something akin to a pretzel.

Jane takes care of him to her own physical detriment – Stephen had not wanted outside help, even though they had three children – and it was through her efforts he effected Saturnine self-mastery within Saturnine confines, seclusion and premature aging. Saturn rules endings, too, and the termination of their 30-year marriage – Stephen became enamored of a homecare nurse (Maxine Peake), and Jane had already developed feelings for a local choirmaster Jonathan Hellyer Jones (Charlie Cox) who lived with the couple for a time – feels monumental and somehow liberating.

Stephen Hawking outlived by decades his initial diagnosis, as though his Saturn – he’s a real-life Capricorn, the Zodiac sign ruled by that planet – somehow willed it. Stephen’s time-wrangling turned out to be less about brief history and more about personal transcendence and transformation.

Archetype: Survivor. Master. Hermit. Authority Figure.

Astrology Archetype: ♄ (Saturn)

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