Gravity: Gripping Sci-Fi Drama
George ClooneySandra Bullock
Ahmed El Dahan
Space has often been used by filmmakers as a canvas to explore humanity; vast and unfamiliar, space also has a history of being a pivotal setting for philosophical debate through film. Alfonso Cuarón‘s newest production, Gravity, follows suit, bringing eager viewers another fast-paced, survival story.
Initially presenting the tranquillity of floating weightlessly above the Earth’s atmosphere, Gravity soon replaces serenity with catastrophe. The prologue of Gravity immediately throws viewers aside astronauts leading a maintenance mission on the Hubble Telescope satellite, with a magnificent view of the Earth. When misfortune strikes, the team are pinned in a dismal state of emergency; with severed communications to base (voiced by Ed Harris), there is little hope of survival.
Reminiscent of Ellen Ripley in Alien, Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock), is accompanied by down to Earth veteran commander, Matt Kowalski (Clooney). The two find themselves the sole survivors of an accident involving debris from a detonated Russian satellite orbiting the Earth, viciously destroying everything in its path.
Clooney and Bullock share a warm chemistry with his charm contrasting with her neuroticism. The director weaves conversation during the couple’s long float to the nearby Russian Space Station, delving character exploration and delivering the underlying themes of the film. In spite of the terrifying circumstances, Clooney maintains a cool demeanour throughout, which is a documented trait amongst experienced astronauts. Bullock’s character represents humanity’s tumultuous will to survive despite having nothing to live for. Owning the majority of screen time, the actress has cemented herself as a masterful performer that will grip the audience’s nerves, without saying a single word.
With a few exceptions, where the director breaks scientific laws to push elements of the story, Gravity heavily adheres to Newtonian physics. Space shivers silently, giving way to an exhilarating soundtrack.
Visually stunning, Gravity’s liquid camera work frequently places itself in the astronauts’ point of view, frantically panning whilst clutching onto machinery for dear life. Bullock spirals uncontrollably into the infinity of space, accompanied only by the viewers who are pushed into feeling like casual participants to her dire strait. Artistic shots are scattered throughout, playing with elements unique to the setting; space’s silent vastness, the risk of suffocation and the claustrophobic solitude of space stations, all shining in the bright rays of the sun. In its brief appearance, planet Earth is immensely poetic to the viewer after bearing witness to Bullocks cataclysmic experiences in space.
In perhaps what could be considered his masterpiece, Cuarón has powerfully infused the high-tech mechanical industry of space exploration with the subtleties of human sentiment. Worthy of countless views, Gravity is a perfect balance of teeth-grinding scenes and warm, heartfelt relief.