Chapter 36: Inspirational pictures

A movie is a good one if it cradles my emotions. Tears serve as my personal indicator of a movie’s quality. Either I laugh so hard that I cannot help but spill some teardrops, or I am so powerfully shaken by sentiment and empathy that I am shedding waterfalls. I have cried at quite a few movies, including Rain Man, The Shawshank Redemption, and surprisingly even The Dark Knight (movies which I can all recommend to you). However, the intensity of my crying reached a whole other level when I watched The Theory Of Everything. This movie made me break into an ocean of tears like I had never before.

The Theory Of Everything beautifully portrays the life of Stephen Hawking. I was familiar with his famous advancements in physics, such as the investigation of black holes, long time before the cinematographic biography aired. But I had no idea about the monstrous hurdles in his private life. In his very early twenties, doctors diagnosed motor neuron disease due to which they expected Hawking to live no longer than two more years. Can you imagine? Can you imagine what it must be like to face a fatal illness, to breathe death when you are only about to start life? It must be unbearably devastating. Rapid decay basically knocked at the gates of Hawking’s body, and, yet, he still delivered ground-breaking contributions to science. Despite his fatal disease, Hawking clung to his vision of finding the answer to the universe, and he successfully discovered it. Defying all medical experts, he outlived his predicted life expectancy by far. Instead of a mere 24 months, he continued his work for another 663 months until the age of 76.  

Shortly before Theory Of Everything, a similar biographical movie had deeply inspired me. Hidden Figures narrates the story of three Afro-American women: Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Katherine Johnson. Considering my prior nescience about these three ladies, I was fascinated to learn that they all played integral actors in the real-life drama of human space ventures. Jackson was the first female NASA engineer of colour. Her colleague Dorothy Vaughan became the first Afro-American supervisor at the NASA centre in Hampton. All the while, Katherine Johnson ensured the success of the first, US-crewed spaceflights through her outstanding maths abilities. Exploring their biographies, I found it especially empowering to hear about the hardship they had to push through in order to achieve those huge accomplishments they are honoured for today. Their career success did not sleekly snuggle into them. On the contrary, racial discrimination and gender inequality laid as major steppingstones in their way to the top. Mary Jackson, for instance, petitioned her local government to receive access to education which was forbidden to her by law. How far would you go in fighting for your rights? Would you dare to petition your local council? It takes a lot of guts to contest the law, right? This is exactly why I found the life story of these three women so admirable.

Since all good things come in threes, I would like to point out a third, superb biographical film, namely The Imitation Game. This award-winning masterpiece stirred up my head and left me with salty eyes too. Its plot is set during World War II, following the work and life of Alan Turing. Turing counts among English war heroes as he was the one who deciphered the Nazi enigma code which encrypted crucial military strategies of the Third Reich. Many lives could be saved thanks to his accomplishments. The machine he built to break the secret military code also manifests the forerunner of modern computers. Thus, beside the victory over the Nazis, we also owe computer technology to Turing’s pioneering invention. But like the previous characters, Turing was also burdened by substantial obstacles. His homosexuality restricted his way of living immensely, especially given that gays were outlawed back in the 1900’s. As a homosexual man he was treated without dignity, he had to fear for his life, and he had to constantly hide his true self although he deserved every respect from the world.

What do all of the mentioned motion pictures have in common?

All three of them manifest autobiographies about famous people, that is correct. They all won several big prizes of the film industry, that is correct too. More importantly though, each of them entails a stimulating and inspiring story of an individual, a person like you and me. The reason why these life stories bear such a remarkably motivational essence is because they teach us a crucial lesson about personal resilience. All main characters encountered major push backs, barriers that seemed unassailable, in many different forms. No matter how big the resistance from their opponents grew, however, they all remained strong and refused to give up. With sturdy willpower, hard-work, an unwavering belief in their cause, and a hopeful mindset; they achieved what nobody else had achieved before.

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