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A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking , Isobel Hawking , Errol Morris  |  G |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Price: $79.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Hawking, Isobel Hawking, Janet Humphrey, Mary Hawking
  • Directors: Errol Morris
  • Writers: Stephen Hawking
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MVVE16
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,890 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

For the first time on DVD, take a provocative look at world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his theories on life and the universe in this thoughtful program based on the best-selling book of the same name. Interspersed with anecdotes about his climb to the top of the world's scientific ladder, the man many consider the world's leading analytical mind explains his ideas about the origins and destiny of the universe, fate, time and the existence of God. A professor at the University of Cambridge - where he holds the same chair that Sir Isaac Newton held 300 years ago - Hawking has become one of the few serious scientists with mainstream appeal and enjoys a popular reputation for illustrating complex problems and supreme questions in a clear, entertaining manner. Documentarian Errol Morris has a knack for finding the fascinating quirks of his subjects, and this brings Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time to sparkling life. Through interviews with family and colleagues of the brilliant theoretical physicist, as well as Hawking's own synthesized readings and reminiscences, we learn of his early life, his struggle with the degenerative disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and his wide-ranging contributions to our knowledge of time, black holes, and the origin of the universe. The science is never downplayed; between Hawking's prose and Morris's visual wizardry, important concepts such as entropy and singularities jump from the screen in memorable vignettes. (Hawking believes a truly universal theory of physics will be understood by "scientists, philosophers, and just ordinary people.") Philip Glass's music, subdued and minimal, balances the alternately somber and hilarious moods of the film. The viewer is left with a sense of awe at the joyous spirit of a man trapped in the world of the mind, occasionally letting the rest of us in on his discoveries. --Rob Lightner

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give it six stars... November 20, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is simply the finest documentary I've ever seen. Beautiful is not a word I use often, especially in such a context, but it certainly applies here. The cinematography, music and overall style is understated, yet excellent.
If you're looking for a mere visual depiction of Dr. Hawking's wonderful book, you are apt to be surprised. The video interweaves Dr. Hawking "reading" his book (with appropriate visuals) with interviews of his colleagues, friends and family. While much of the interview material discusses Hawking's disability, there is none of the maudlin pity or false heroics we see so often in the media. The viewer is left with a sense of tremendous awe, both from the material explored, and from the power of one man's genius.
Very highly recommended. I've watched it several times.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most thought provoking experience I can recall October 14, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
I rented this video at our summer house and was so entranced by it, I watched it three times in a row until 4:00 AM. Stephen puts very complex, cutting edge theory into easy to understand models for the average guy. Even if you are above average in your understanding of the universe, you will still be provoked intellicutally. I can't say enough about this video. Get it for the kids and watch them astound you as to their ability to think in concepts and question accepted ideas. JUST BUY IT!!! - Terrence J. Boylan, Jr.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legend in our own Space/Time October 12, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
If you have any inkling of intelligence, and crave pondering the mechanisms of the Universe, then this is a must see vid for you. One day, the human species will catch up in our evolutionary process and be able to reach the itch that Hawkings scratches.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and thought provoking August 1, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This delightful documentary gives a keen look at the intimate parts of Stephen Hawking's remarkable life. Interviews of friends, family members, and colleagues are artfully weaved with pictures of Hawking, computer graphic illustrations, and the commentary of Hawking himself. Along with the overview of Hawking's life we get fascinating bits of physics and philosophy that challenges his mind and everyone else's. If you have an interest in popular physics, then this would be a worthy purchase.
This isn't a spectacular documentary, it stays true to the accepted style that is both entertaining and at times predictable and plodding. It is humorous though, the opening scene involves a chicken and some stars, and much of Hawking's narration is filled with wry wit.
The First portion of the film is almost solely devoted to the early years of Professor Hawking's life. He wasn't good at school we learn surprisingly. He was never as attentive as he later wished he should have been. However, his genius was enough, and he got his degrees. However, it was being diagnosed with ALS that forced him to focus on what really interested him, the aftermath of which has been the cosmologist we know today.
Further into the movie there is a discussion of black holes, which is the subject of Hawking's first successes in physics. This segment alone I consider worth the price of admission, however an even stronger segment comes next; a discussion of the origin and outcome of the universe in which we live. It's all concluded by some whimsical observations by Hawking. This isn't a classic, but for those that don't have the time to jump into many works of cosmology and physics and philosophy, this provides entertainment and a fair dose of where physics stands today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting developments in science July 31, 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This short film is about a monumental cosmologist attempting to delve into the unknown in order to know it. It poses the question as to whether there is a God behind the universe or a self-contained boundless system running blindly by its own physical laws (or perhaps there is a God but one who is impersonal to the universe). Today there are two theories about the expansion of the universe. Some believe that it will continue to expand forever while others think it will slow down, contract, and collapse with the cycle continuing infinitely. Hawkings clearly thinks the latter is more plausible. This probably explains his agnostic stance on creationism, while many theologians would naturally be more inclined to reject the theory of a collapsing and expanding universe because it does seem to do away with the idea of a "beginning" and "end." As an ignoramus in the field of physics and cosmology, I found this film to be a good compliment to his book (which is a read somewhat difficult for a person without a background in physics). Hawking's idealism is vibrant as he sounds hopeful that scientists are close to developing a unified theory of the universe that will be explicable not only to philosophers and scientists, but to the average person as well. This films only flaw is that it doesn't have captions telling us who is being interviewed and what their relation is to Stephen, but that's only a minor one at most.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief History of Time November 14, 2001
Rob Lightner's review says it all. This is a beautifully crafted glimpse at the very frontiers of scientific research. Hawking's quest for the ultimate theory is not only scientifically compelling but spiritually uplifting as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Look October 28, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
A very fine and intriguing documentary from Errol Morris about the life and work of physicist/celebrity Stephen Hawking, who revolutionized the way we think about the universe in his monumental book of the same name. The film is really divided into two stories, the life of Hawking as he struggles to overcome his paralysis, and the brilliant work he achieved in spite of his physical limitations. One gets the impression that had Hawking never became ill, he wouldn't have been as compelled to carry out the kind rigorous intellectual work that he of course did carry out, and (he himself notes that he was quite bored with life prior to his paralysis). Morris does a fine job with the material; the first half hour of the film suffers from a dry PBS feel, but the aesthetic and intellectual intensity takes off from there, the film never digresses into a mere sob story. Morris nearly always keeps the material more intellectually intriguing than it is uplifting and sentimental.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This really is a masterpiece
I probably watch this documentary at least once a year, but it's never been available on DVD until now. I just saw it last night. Read more
Published 4 months ago by david saul kinski
5.0 out of 5 stars An All-Time Favorite
Most intriguing and informative movie that gives much background on Stephen Hawking, both historical and personal. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Robert Colburn
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and educational story
An interesting story of the technical side of astrophysics combined Stephen Hawkings' personal story. Read more
Published on July 6, 2009 by Claude J. Werner
2.0 out of 5 stars An anything but brief history
This video was purchased as part of the required material for a college course. I've always been interested in science and the people at the cutting edge, but this... Read more
Published on June 26, 2009 by David B. Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars Biography and Science
Many documentaries focus on either the scientific ideas of a person, trying to explain them to an audience wherein most people can understand what is being talked about. Read more
Published on July 26, 2005 by M. Buisman
4.0 out of 5 stars Redundant and Mindbending
'A Brief History of Time' is a film that mixes both the story of Stephen Hawking's life and his theories on quantum physics. Read more
Published on February 9, 2001 by Dhaval Vyas
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart Stuff Made Stupid
Remember Captain Pike on classic Trek? He was the burnt, mute guy in the futuristic electric wheelchair. Dr. Read more
Published on September 3, 2000 by Regent St. Claire
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair
If you are looking for information on theories than go read the book, this is a review of hawkings life. It is good in that regard but has nothing on science.
Published on December 6, 1999 by A guy who saw the movie
2.0 out of 5 stars A brief comment on a brief history of time
This video should have rather been called a brief biography of Stephen Hawking. It only touched very lightly on his theories and works. Read more
Published on November 21, 1999 by Dr. CA Novis
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