Gravity (2013) – A Gripping Drama of Redemption
Tales set in space aren’t new to us. Every space movie that we’ve ever experienced, except a dew, have dealt with adventures in space which were exaggerated dramas, where in the basic physics we learnt back in our high schools would’ve been sadly abandoned. The fresh reviews on ‘Gravity’, a survival cinema, by Alfonso Cuarón, showed clearly that this film has managed to garner instant reverence, to be called as the best space adventure tales of our time. In a broader sense it puts this film along with ‘2001: A space Odyssey’.
Gravity offers the viewers a unique experience which makes it more than being just a movie. With that 3D goggles on every viewer might certainly feel as if he/she is put into a virtual reality simulation. The film lets everyone live virtually in space for a good 90 minutes. Perhaps this is the film that has exploited the 3D technology to its best next to ‘Avatar’, where it’s been used as a tool to ‘show the story’ rather than being used as a mere technological gimmick or an extra fitting.
Plot wise Gravity offers nothing new. Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her maiden space mission to revamp the Hubble Space telescope, which fails miserably due to the unexpected catastrophe caused by the bombardment of the Russian satellite debris, claiming every member of the crew sparring her and astronaut Matt Kowalski played beautifully by George Clooney.
Running out oxygen reserve and draining hopes, Dr. Stone cast away in space loses all contacts for a while, does nothing but whirls in space, calling for rescue over and over. That is a dramatic moment where the viewer is able to sense the clear danger in space odysseys and a glimpse of dangers faced by an astronaut during space walks. We in our kinder garden days would surely have dreamt of being an Astronaut, a sure inclusion in the list of I wanna be… This work having shown a near realistic depiction of life in space, would only want the juniors to rethink their wish to be space walkers. Gravity wins over the rest in showing the life in space with a touch of reality rather than showcasing the mere adventurous side of it that every other work portrays.
The marooned Dr. Stone regains her hope only when Kowalski bumps into her, for rescue. She gets with him, connected with a rope, the sole hope of survival, the duo head towards ISS (International Space Station) to get into the shuttle that would take them back home. George Clooney has rendered memorable performance as Matt Kowalski. Though his screen presence is very short, in a woman centric script like this, he portrays the cool and composed veteran astronaut who manages to crack a joke even after leaving the rope accepting his end for the survival of his team mate.
After his departure the only soul in the rest of the film is Sandra and she shoulders the entire film on her back. She portrays the naiveness of an engineer on her maiden space mission, the desperateness to live, the moment of confusion at the brink of her life filled with chaos with perfection. The deliberate attempts she makes to get back to ISS and the moment she enters in and ebbs out of her space suits crouching and floating inside the capsule with the ropes floating around resembling the fetus inside the womb with the robes looking like the umbilical cord drifting around is a visual poem.
The movie begins with a note on facts about space. The sequences that follow in the film stand true to those facts. The initial momentum is set in the drama soon after the alert about the oncoming danger arrives through the radio from the mission control center from earth. In no time the debris flying at random at immense speed rips ISS to pieces. The entire breath taking action block happens in dead silence, true to the fact that sound can’t travel in vacuum.
Music is rendered by Steven Price, the music editor of the last two installments of the LOTR trilogy. Price has done a stupendous job assisting the mounting tension in the drama trough his music, playing subtly wherever essential, and escalating at crucial moments and dissolving in silence where the accompanying visual demands it.
Emmanuel Lubezki is the man who has offered us all a free ticket to this 90 minute space trip. This Mexican maverick of light, with three decades of relentless journey as a Cinematographer, still goes strong with his breath taking work in Gravity. Shooting almost all the sequences in this movie is ultimately challenging for the space in which the story unfolds is ‘space’ itself, no point of references can be made. With no sense of direction designing convincing and logical lighting arrangements is the challenge and he has delivered it at his best. Already many have speculated the movie might likely win few Oscars and that might include ‘Best Cinematography’.
Cuarón who has co-written the script with Jonás Cuarón , has taken extreme care that the building action in the plot never eats up the basic science during its progress. His vision is incredible and the final product has clearly shown that he wanted to make a film that never defies scientific reality. This reasons out why he insisted Sandra and of course other members of the technical crew to undergo the zero gravity training sessions in NASA that are being given to real astronauts. Literally Sandra has to live inside a bubble for hours together every day during the shoot. Behind the scenes news reveals that it was the climax sequence that was shot first. Later watching the rush Cuarón realized that floating movements that are naturally produced under water almost resembles the floating in space and this simple yet intelligent idea changed altogether the way the film was made.
The final moment alone has defied scientific logic, where Dr. Stone braves herself to stand on her feet just moments after her landing. In reality the crew members on return from the space mission will be kept under inspection for days as long as they get used with the earthly milieu and for rigorous monitoring for any radiation exposure, by chance, in space. But that moment in which the Struggling Sandra gets up on her own, shown in the extreme low angle shot, symbolizes her triumph on redemption and the first step she takes after rebirth, a kind of.
A short video on the making of Gravity