Friday, 25 October 2013

Gravity

A phenomenal accomplishment in filmmaking supported by an excellent cast, a strong script and bombastic soundtrack. In sum: the theater experience of the year. See it.



I've been on hiatus for a while, which has been disappointing because I love writing these things. I'm planning to overhaul my blog once I'm free from Uni commitments, but in the meantime... I've been watching lots of stuff! I'll do my best to pump out a few mini-reviews in the coming days as my essay deadlines loom and I need to start digesting all this information into something academically presentable, but in the meantime... Here's Gravity.

With all the buzz around this film I just couldn't resist dashing out to the theater last week to see it. It's almost like a perfect conclusion to my sort-of series about the Hollywood system: When big-budget movies go right. I don't really have much more to say about that, except that it does happen! There are creative people working in the industry - not every film that achieves blockbuster status is cookie cutter. Gravity is a totally unique film to experience.


The film was made with a budget of around $100 million, and every cent is on screen. Almost everything you see here was created in a computer, but at no point watching it did I feel the artificiality coming through. The visuals of this film are eye-popping... jaw dropping... stupendously breathtaking. This is a film that greatly benefits from 3D - and the larger the theater, the better. Try and catch it in that format if you can, because it's the kind of film that really loses a lot of its luster when downsized to a television or computer screen. Not all its luster though.

By way of proper introduction, in case you haven't heard of this film: Gravity tells the story of a group of astronauts conducting maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope. Suddenly disaster strikes in the form of a cloud of space debris orbiting the Earth causing a ripple effect; the HST is destroyed and becomes part of the cloud, which drifts on and destroys more satellites - a potential real-life catastrophe for astronauts called the Kessler Effect.

This film does great justice to the real science of space, but it is ultimately a human story. As the astronauts desperately struggle to get a grip in zero gravity, what transpires in Sandra Bullocks character is a metaphorical rebirth as she is forced to overcome her situation - both physically out in space, and emotionally in her state of grief. Early on we see her strip off her space-suit and curl up in a fetal position, floating in zero-g as in the womb. It's a beautiful image, and one of several clear symbolic ones throughout the film that add depth and texture to the otherwise straightforward narrative. The final scene of the film is a visceral and satisfying conclusion that drives home the impact of the roller-coaster thrill of the entire piece.

One phrase that shooting around the internet now is: Gravity does for space what Jaws did for water. In other words, through its exceptional production, the film has become a proof-of-concept for films that are set in zero gravity. It's possible that this marks the first in a whole new genre of space-survival films, or realistic sci-fi. Only time will tell, but in the meantime I reiterate: Go and watch Gravity!