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Stephen Hawking's Universe (1997)

Stephen Hawking , Eugene Babaev  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Hawking, Eugene Babaev, Jeff Rawle, Gregory Benford, Frank Langella
  • Producers: Laura Sobel
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 14, 2000
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780631315
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,300 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Stephen Hawking's Universe" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

He is a living legend, whose book A Brief History of Time became an instant best seller. Now, his genius is fully revealed in this new series that will treat you to the latest and most profound advances in cosmological thought in true down-to-earth Hawking fashion. Encompassing Hawking's matchless point of view, these six programs spin an intergalactic detective story, rich with mystery, unexpected twists and astonishing revelations. Titles are: "The Big Bang," "On the Dark Side," and "Black Holes and Beyond."

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 97 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Let me start out by saying that I read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and really enjoyed it. But, then what a sad disappointment this series turned out to be. One could turn off the picture and just listen to the audio and get about as much interesting information. I realize that Dr. Sagan raised the bar pretty high but the makers of this documentary didn't even seem to care. Watch video sequences repeated over and over - sometimes not even relating to the narration that drones on in the background. Squint hard to see what is going on in the darkly lit sets as the camera super-slow pans into something that is supposed to be significant...but really isn't. I watched the entire series just waiting for a sequence that would capture my imagination. It never happened. As for replay-ability? I defy anyone who have made it through the entire series to watch it again. Dr. Hawking deserves better.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Narration, Shame About the Visuals June 20, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This video series covers all the basic ideas of cosmology in an interesting and easy to understand manner, with a strong historical focus. The narration, describing this, is very interesting and well thought out. However, the visual aspect is appalling. Most of it consists of out of fucus shots of things that have nothing to do with the program, irrelvant images of star fields, shots of people walking around, shots of empty rooms and other irrelevances. When people are interviewed, they are often shown in very dim surroundings, making their faces hard to see. All in all, the visual elements are just hopeless and add nothing to the video. Towards the end, I didn't even bother looking at the screen but just listened to the audio. I lost nothing by doing this. All in all, Professor Hawking might as well have written another book.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lack of Visual Aids May 10, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Stephen Hawking's Universe covers all the important points in Cosmology, but when one buys a video documentary on the subject, one expects more than just lucid explanations by talking heads (or even a head that uses a computer to talk). I was disappointed that for all the good work put into the making of SHU, the visual component was so poor; why not just make it into an audio book instead? Most of the time, throughout the entire series, the same set of bland, information-free starfield images and lame optical tricks (we're not even talking cheap computer animation!) accompany narration of (relatively) deep, conceptual scientific ideas. The rare instances in which camera footage is included -- say, to show a scene at an earth-based telescope -- quench the viewer's thirst for visual aid only long enough to underscore the series' basic dearth of such resources. Better luck next time, Stephen.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about the quality of this DVD collection before even seeing it. Being an owner of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series on DVD, and a great admirer of the man and his series, I must admit I had an inherent bias and felt that I would be hard-pressed finding anything else that was in the same league.
I was mistaken. This DVD collection presents the main points anyone should know about the universe. I say "main" due simply to the fact that this collection does not go into great detail on several topics, as does Sagan's Cosmos. It focuses on a limited field of topics (which is understandable, since it is only three discs) and explains them thoroughly. It is not brief, yet Hawking does not waste our time with "waffle". It is concise and does not err in explaining details correctly. Being of a science-trained background, I would like to take the opportunity of adding that I did not find anything questionable or dubious in the subject matter. (It was, after all, written and edited by Stephen Hawking.)
Viewers with no physics, or even basic science education, may find this collection slightly hard to understand in certain sections. That's not to say that the episodes need a Degree in Physics to be able to understand them either! A high-school level of Physics would allow you to comfortably understand everything that is said. Nevertheless, if you have no training in this area, do not fear... you might misunderstand one or two terms or concepts, but whole episodes do not focus on just one point, so you will not find any episode completely bewildering. (I would find this as a positive. The collection then serves as an educational set and may even influence the viewer to take-on personal study or research the topic more thoroughly.
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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly done. July 10, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I thought that because of Stephen Hawking, this was going to be great (I wish I could see more of his direct work on the film). It was pretty bad. First it looked as if it was filmed through a very dark blue filter. It was very hard to see. I thought my tv was broken. Also, the same graphic of an exploding star is used from everything to supernovas and blackholes, it is quite irritating. The information is poor at best, it covered 1/100 of the infomation in A Brief History of Time, a very good book (I never saw the video). Don't buy this, it is not worth it, try to catch it on PBS if you are interested, or rent it from your library.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
It very well may be that Stephen Hawking is the greatest mind since Albert Einstein. The material on this DVD is nothing less than great, but falls short in the area of production, and presentation. I think most physics/science fans still hold all documentaries of this type, in comparison with Carl Sagan's: Cosmos.

With all fairness, the structure or style of the production, is more on the lines of a news documentary, with lots of interviews, a more mystery feel to the presentation. Editing seems a little ameture'ish, it would have been nice to leave out the sponsor slots, and the usual PBS station calls, these detract heavily from the entire experience really, even though they are done at the beginning and end of the episodes only. The musical score seems fitting, but don't expect any Vangelis like tracks, as in Cosmos. The nararator does a decent job, but personally, I would have liked to hear it more from Mr. Hawking himself, via his voice synthesizer. Of course that would have made it a longer DVD, but there could have been more graphical content to accompany the dialog too.

A good DVD set, that is packed with a wealth of knowledge, but killed by production. I suggest, If you haven't already, pick up Carl Sagan's: Cosmos.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives history of science
As a scientist myself, I really love this series for the overview of the development of scientific thought. It's not just a "gee golly stars are really big" documentary. Read more
Published 12 months ago by rmrich00
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I wish the world was less religious and better educated!!!! To many people who make decisions for us are completely ignorant to the truth.
Published 15 months ago by Clstex
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Hawking's Universe (1997)Rated: NR | Format: DVD
Stephen Hawking's Universe (1997) was every thing I was looking for, took longer to arrive than I thought, but seeing it was Xmas that's understandable.
Published 21 months ago by Peter Shanahan
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Hawking's Universe
Overall a very good production. However, the half-lit faces during interviews were very annoying. A poor choice of lighting effects.
Published on April 6, 2011 by Craig Jansen
4.0 out of 5 stars Good informative program
This program is well done, albeit they were not exploring new ground that hasn't been covered in similar shows. Read more
Published on April 5, 2009 by D.B. Cooper
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent repackaging to "Slim line"
The packaging is now revised to slim line, which saves space. I originally rented this product at the local library, the old packaging was 3 standard DVD cases (bulky)... Read more
Published on March 27, 2008 by Dennis Yenn
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Owning ****4 stars****
Sincerely, do yourself a favour and source out a BBC edition. I give it (5 Stars)It is an awesome package. Inspiring and well told. Read more
Published on October 10, 2006 by John
4.0 out of 5 stars Review for Steven Hawking's Universe
Steven Hawking's Universe by John Boslough is about Steven Hawking's life and his scientific discoveries. Read more
Published on April 17, 2006 by matt
4.0 out of 5 stars Informationally boring but definitely worth my time.
Starbucks played an integral role in the success of this series with me. However, I thoroughly enjoy cosmology so I like getting the big picture delivered by this set. Read more
Published on January 30, 2005 by Joel Foust
5.0 out of 5 stars The unfolding of everything
I come to physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology and geology as a layperson who is fascinated by the big questions of life. Read more
Published on June 14, 2004 by Thomas Lapins
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