It’s been said that the environmental movement began with the first images of earth from space, a pale blue marble of life in the dark abyss of space. Since then, the idea of Earth as a unique spaceship took hold in the cultural consciousness of the mid 20th Century. 50 years on however, the magic of space seems to have been superseded by the distraction of cyberspace, but the wonder of the space has been given a poetic vehicle once again, not seen perhaps since Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘.
Gravity is a crisp and awe inspiring journey that deals with the nature of loss and mortality, and for such a high-concept, effects driven film, it’s the emotional core of the character
s that is played at the forefront throughout. No CGI porn here, although the CGI is spectacular no doubt about it. The movie tackles its subject matter in a much more subtle and direct way than other “science-fact” space movies such as ‘Odyssey‘. Whereas ‘Odyssey‘ was an cinematic epic on modernity, technology and meaning of humanity, ‘Gravity‘ concentrates solely on the experientially of space and the existential pressures of one individual in the vastness of the cosmos. As a result, the 3D works perfectly in tandem with the story, visually fleshing out this sparse and psychologically challenging environment. The 3D also underlines the constant tension throughout that doesn’t let up until the very final frame, achieved no doubt by Curons excellent use of framing and camera movement, which is realised so well you feel as if the entire film is just one continuous unbroken shot.
The strong relationship between Director Alfonso Curon and Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki speaks volumes in this movie building on their successful experiments in the past, marrying both a strong creative vision with perfect technical execution. Their previous films such as ‘Children Of Men‘ played with unbroken time, exploiting the absence of cuts in the edit and cranking up the tension in one-take scenes like this car scene or this Pivate Ryan-esqe battle scene. The movement of the camera in ‘Children of Men’ looks complicated (and it was) but compared to Gravity it’s was easy as Lubezki’s camerawork here had to deal with the problem of a zero G, which lead to a surprisingly graceful effect, the camera dancing around the some of the explosive action like a rubbernecking ballerina.
Once again Curon’s direction, letting the camera merely document the action rather than participate in the emotional stakes of the scene, underlines the high stakes Bullock’s character goes through by never letting us forget we are in space, spinning around earth and weightlessly falling towards it. It’s the distance between these awe inspiring visuals and the relatable emotional underpinnings that makes this movie so compelling.
Bullock ,by the way, performs reliably. I never quite got over the fact that in the movie she plays an astronaught with serious emotional pitfalls, something I’m guessing NASA would weed out in week 1 of training. But after I got over this initial “plot hole” in the first act I gave in to her vulnerable performance. If you hate science fiction you’ll love her playing an emotionally distant woman fighting to find meaning for her life and even if you don’t like her, you’ll still enjoy the destruction porn in this movie that makes the space station explosion in Armageddon look like diet coke and mentos experiment. Clooney also brings his A game, playing the go-getting astronaut perfectly, although there was one self-referential line that took me out of the movie for a bit. Clooney Fans will love it, everyone else will cringe, but hey, it’s George Clooney.
There are movies which you can see on your laptop months later and still enjoy them, no doubt I’ll enjoy this when I’ll see it again, but it really is one of those movies that you have to see in the cinema if you have the chance to. After the disappointing ‘After Earth‘ and ‘Oblivion‘ this is a high-concept effects driven film that doesn’t sacrifice a great story for a shiny finish. All I’m going to say on the matter is that it is no doubt the best 3D film ever made, or at least the best 3D film I’ve ever seen. This is exactly the type of movie that should be made in 3D as it’s basically a Science Museum IMAX movie but with better CGI, an emotional core and award winning actors. A winning combination if ever I saw one.
Gravity Spheres Of Enjoyment
- Voyager 1 = A 3D IMAX screening with smuggled in popcorn from the corner shop
- International Space Station = A 3D Screening at an Odeon where you pay more for your popcorn than the ticket
- Boeing 747 = Seeing it at the cinema, any cinema.
- Ground Zero = Peckham Multiplex
- Marinas Trench = Your laptop, March 2014, Sockshare
This article was originally posted at WatchMePivot Magazine