Brain Pickings

A Brief History of Time: Rare 1991 Errol Morris Documentary About Stephen Hawking, Free Online


For the celebrated cosmologist’s birthday, revisiting a near-forgotten trifecta of genius.

Iconic theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose 1988 classic A Brief History of Time is not only one of these 7 favorite books about time but also among the most influential science books published in the past century, celebrates his seventy-first birthday today. While many films have been made about Hawking and his theories over the years, none compare to documentarian extraordinaire Errol Morris‘s 1991 masterpiece about Hawking’s life, titled after the seminal book and featuring original music by none other than Philip Glass.

Though Morris tweeted exactly a year go that he planned to re-release the film, it remains virtually unfindable on DVD, Bluray, or any digital format, and only exists on VHS, which might explain the dreadful quality of the video below. Still, what a treat to have the film available online in its entirety — the content itself is absolutely, mind-bendingly priceless, just like a Hawking/Morris cross-pollination might imply. Enjoy:

Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.

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