Why Gravity is Awesome

"Gravity is a must see; exhilarating and superb, James Cameron has dubbed it ‘the best space movie ever”

It’s safe to say Harry Potter producer David Heyman has another sure-fire hit on his hands. Gravity is a hauntingly beautiful film which at the same time as completely stunning the audience with its visuals, is lip-bitingly tense. Alfonso Cuarón has created a space masterpiece which keeps the audience ridiculously engaged from beginning to end.

There are moments in Gravity when you cannot believe what you are seeing

Gravity opens with text describing the atmosphere of space, before stating ‘Life in Space is Impossible’, and treating the audience to a 90 minute glimpse as to why. Gravity takes place hovering in orbit of Earth, where a repair mission is underway. George Clooney is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, who is on his last mission, and is joined by Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock on top form), who is conversely a newcomer on her first mission for NASA. The film barely introduces us to the incredible surroundings when everything starts to go wrong. A debris attack faster than a speeding bullet hits the unprepared astronauts, their ship is all but destroyed and they lose all communication with earth. With this attack comes suspense, tension and a realisation of the almost utter hopelessness of the situation. The audience is given a sense of just how vast space actually is: there is nothing to carry sound, no oxygen, and it is literally never-ending.

Two Geniuses at work

Clooney and Bullock have been friends for years and it shows on-screen; they have great chemistry. Clooney’s Kowalski is the complete opposite of Bullock’s Stone; he is calm, experienced and appreciates the beauty of his work, whilst she is nervous, anxious and quietly content to get on with her job without a second glance at her surroundings, which clearly frighten her. But George Clooney is the right hand man here - this is without a doubt, Sandra Bullock’s movie. It is a one woman show, and it is spectacular; she seems from the onset a solitary character - Bullock herself describes her as robotic - and she has suffered a personal trauma in her past that has undoubtedly made her this way.

At one point Dr Stone mutters to herself “I hate space” and with good reason: the plot has her assaulted by one danger after another. The audience empathises with her on a fundamental level; we want her to make it home, we have, along with her, been plunged into this solitary world, and we relate to her despair and panic. Intermingled with these negative feelings is the calm, good-natured and joking air of Kowalski, and this becomes a subconscious relief to Stone in the most desperate moments. This could truly be the performance of Sandra Bullock’s career - we have heard stories of the immensely difficult shoot, but when you view the finished product it is simply breath taking. Dr Stones monologue in the last third of the film is full of determination as she accepts her fate after her initial anguish at the thought of dying. She is uplifting, somehow finds the desire to live, and becomes full of exhilaration. It is incredibly moving and we go right along with her the entire way. When she takes a gasping breath of air, the audience do to. We have, without realising it, been collectively holding our breath. It is an Oscar worthy performance to be sure.

The Lighting wasn’t ideal

It wouldn’t be right to complete this review without mentioning the real genius behind Gravity; its director Alfonso Cuarón. He wrote the script with his son Jonas and the idea has been circling for the past 6 years due to the extremely difficult lengths it would take to film. There were even suggestions to actually film in space or on the vomit comet that would create 20 seconds of zero gravity each take. This was eventually decided against, but it was still a process unlike any other: Cuarón and his director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki knew exactly where the camera would be and where it would move in its entirety before any other work was done. It sounds infuriating , but look what has come from this dedication: the visuals are nothing short of incredible, and, despite being constantly surrounded by danger, the beauty is unmistakable. The beginning of the film all the way through the debris attack is done in one continuous take, and you have to see the film to realise just how incredible a feat that is.

We see the surroundings through Bullock’s eyes, again without breaking the take, as in space there is no right way up; we get all sorts of angles from the camera. Cuarón has a beautiful way of focusing in on the smallest element of the scene and making it special. A solitary tear floating in zero gravity is a great representation for Dr Stone’s character, and it brings the audience even deeper into the experience.

The use of sound in the film is also masterful. It goes up and down in volume depending on the situation, how close the characters are to each other, and it even cuts out completely at one point, representing the emotional circumstances taking place.

Making Gravity was a huge undertaking, but it will likely make tons of money and get various awards, all of which it greatly deserves. Underneath it all, however, is simply – and beautifully - a womans battle through colossal obstacles to find the desire to live again.

This has been Mary’s privilege for The Awesome Update.

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