If we don’t stick to our roots, we go far away into inconspicuousness. The moral of the story, perhaps…
Science fiction, third dimension filming, CGI—a perfect recipe for a Hollywood Blockbuster, with style over substance, one would assume. Yet though, really? Refuting the common maxim, Gravity is unlike popular science fiction and space drama movies and comes closer to a 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) than an Armageddon (1998).
Alfonso Cuarón specializes in venturing into profound themes through his movies—willing to ponder upon grand questions of philosophy. Akin to these intellectual enquiries, he brings forth a space thriller with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock leading the cast, yet manages to convey a very spiritual message.
Gravity is a fictional account of a mission specialist, Ryan Stone in space to investigate a space shuttle, Explorer. In a team led by astronaut Matt Kowalski, who is on his last mission, the team plans to return after fixing the Explorer. As per the norm though, things don’t go as planned. There’s a massive intrusion—a disastrous scenario.
The Russians destroy an invalid satellite through a missile strike. This triggers a chain reaction—a flux of space debris storms in the atmosphere and end up striking Kowalski’s spaceship, while sending Dr. Stone—a specialist with only 6 months prior training—drifting into space, low on oxygen.
Most of the team members are dead, with only Kowalski alive—without resources, without aid. Improvisation is the name of the game, now more than ever. Can Matt save her? What happens now, with the debris destroying their space ship and the surviving two in vast emptiness? Is it every woman for herself, or is there a way out—in a no way out situation? The movie answers those questions and along the way, gives viewers a fundamental lesson on our place in reality.
Gravity is a movie about survival. Deeper though, it’s a tale about human race and its quest for continuous survival in an unpredictable paradigm that joins two dots and disappears leaving no traces of past or future. In fact, Cuarón prompts spiritual messages of birth being a journey to death, and death being a journey towards birth through Gravity. Life gravitates towards birth, and with time—birth towards death.
Many such perfectly drafted shots convey Dr. Stone in bondage, in need of a rebirth. Inside the space shuttle, she circles like a baby in its mother’s womb. During the end, she crawls out of the water like a baby out of the womb—ready to enter the world and start the countdown to cessation of life.
Quite simply, Cuarón creates a gigantic analogy of the infinite space replicating the conditions around us. The way Ryan drifts in space, her vulnerability is comparable to everyday life. We aren’t sure of our lives, even if we pretend to be. Any disaster could shake our lives forever, yet the rule of them thumb is to get over it and move ahead. That is what the entire Universe wants from us. In the minutest essence, Gravity depicts basic human conditioning and conditions. Just as Ryan drifts away, when a catastrophe strikes, our life resembles the same pattern.
The role of Kowalski, as the hilarious veteran and the man who pushes Stone towards acceptance and realization, could be any human in our life—somebody who forces us to accept life as it is and move forward breaking free from past shackles bogging us down. If keywords were the game, hope, rebirth, acceptance, survival, celebration, and vulnerability would be some of the terms to summarize the hidden messages in the story.
As such, Gravity is a simple story, but with a powerful execution and let’s not take anything away from the mammoth budget the film was filmed with, as the computer generated imagery and the spawned visuals of the space look categorically breathtaking and stupendous, especially as a 3d experience. This experience is the closest normal people would find to feeling the tiny vastness of space—as close as it gets from the Earth, at least. Everything looks beautiful, spectacular, and completely out of this world. Well, you could say, it is out of this world!
Some movies don’t require any special CGIs; they just shine. Some movies gleam with the help of CGIs. And, some like Gravity take off to another planet, in the most literal way, and make you look down on Earth—disclosing messages of spirituality and humanity through the most equipped state-of-art computer generated graphics and third dimension technology. Gravity is a fine blend of heart-warming emotions and eye-popping visuals making you gravitate towards the screen.
George Clooney plays himself in the movie—nothing out of the ordinary. However, the movie is a complete Sandra Bullock show. She shares 99% of the screen time with the invisible residents of the space, the space shuttle, and memories of her own life. More than her performance, her character arc—from the withered Dr. Stone that Kowalski met to the evolved Ryan Stone, free and ready that she becomes by the end of the movie; the character evolution of Ryan Stone is the seamless point of the movie—over the story, the performances, and the brilliant visuals. The visuals, obviously, are breathtaking and some of the best I have seen personally.
A remarkably awe-inspiring experience—the cinematography, the visuals, and the beautiful message hidden underneath—Gravity is a movie one needs to experience than watch. With all the gimmicks of technology surrounding it, Gravity is still a story of mortality and becoming… As it stands, it’s one of the most spectacular demonstrations of the present standing of technology in cinema. Only here, technology meets emotions in a marriage made in heaven.