A Brief History of Time (1991)
Film review by David Sterritt for the March 2014 Blu-ray release of A Brief History of Time by The Criterion Collection
Knotty questions can often be posed in simple ways. The first words we hear in A Brief History of Time, adapted by Errol Morris from the book by physicist Stephen Hawking, present such a question: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Additional questions follow, more imposing but equally to the point: “Did the universe have a beginning, and if so, what happened before then? Where did the universe come from, and where is it going?” Those are fundamental concerns of Hawking’s book, but don’t expect Morris’s film to be a thorny discourse on theoretical cosmology. As we hear those initial words, we see—what else?—a chicken, popping mischievously into view against a backdrop of the star-filled heavens. It’s a perfect prologue to one of the wittiest, most absorbing science movies ever made.