Theory of Everything, The

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance recommended 13 to 15 (disturbing scenes and themes; lacks interest for younger viewers)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Theory of Everything, The
  • a review of Theory of Everything, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 February 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and lack of interest
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes.
Children aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Theory of Everything, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length: 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Theory of Everything is the story of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones). Stephen and Jane meet at Cambridge University where Stephen is undertaking his PhD and Jane is studying Arts. Stephen is already displaying some signs of a neurological disorder but it isn’t until he has a major fall, which knocks him out, that he is diagnosed with Motor-Neurone Disease. Despite this, and the dreadful short-term prognosis, Jane is determined to help Stephen through his illness.

They marry and have three children, although life is a great struggle for Stephen who gets progressively worse as the illness proceeds. Through sheer determination, a brilliant mind and the support of Jane, Stephen manages to continue his career and to become a leader in the field of cosmology. Stephen and Jane separate after many years and Jane marries Jonathan (Charlie Cox), a man who has been a great support and friend of the family for quite some time.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Illness involving physical deterioration; disability; relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is no person to person violence, but there are disturbing scenes of accidental harm, including:

  • Stephen trips and falls heavily on the pavement knocking him out.
  • Stephen chokes on food during a family meal.
  • Stephen has an attack and collapses at a conference in Bordeaux and is rushed to hospital.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Stephen is shown in hospital pale and bruised. He has a tube in his mouth and a needle is inserted into his spine. Fluid is shown filling the syringe.
  • Stephen develops pneumonia and is rushed to hospital in Bordeaux. He is shown unconscious with tubes in his mouth. A doctor applies a knife to his throat to perform a tracheotomy.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and by the process of Stephen becoming increasingly disabled – having great difficulty walking and having to use crutches. He slides himself up and down the stairs and also has difficulty eating and feeding himself.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

The diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease is quite disturbing. The doctor describes how Stephen will lose all use of his muscles, speech and all voluntary movement. He is only given 2 years to live.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There is mention of someone being a homosexual.
  • A friend asks Stephen if Motor Neurone Disease affects his sexual function. Stephen replies that it uses a different system and that it’s ‘automatic’.
  • Stephen’s mother asks Jane who has fathered their third child – Stephen or Jonathan?
  • Stephen’s father demands that they get a proper nurse rather than having Jonathan help, as he deems it inappropriate.
  • Jane travels with Jonathan to Bordeaux by car with the children. During the night Jane goes to Jonathan’s tent.
  • A therapist shows Jonathan a Penthouse Magazine.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Jane and Stephen kiss and sleep together. Sex is implied but not shown.
  • A nude girl is briefly seen in the Penthouse Magazine.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Social drinking at a number of events

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “sod off’; “damn”

In a nutshell

The Theory of Everything is a drama that shows the indomitable spirit of Stephen Hawking which triumphs over the progressive, debilitating illness of Motor Neurone Disease. His success and what he achieves is quite phenomenal. It is a moving and inspiring story that will appeal to older teens and adults. It lacks interest for under 13 year olds and has some scenes that may disturb this age group.

The main messages from this movie are the strength of the human spirit and the potential of people to achieve greatness against all odds.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • determination
  • resilience
  • selflessness
  • seeing beyond outward appearances

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the challenges that all families face in overcoming difficulties
  • understanding and empathy for disabled people