What’s the ultimate birthday treat for a film fanatic on his birthday if he has been bedridden with a back problem for more than a month? A movie outing of course.And when the much awaited film from Mr Cuaron is playing with a zippy runtime of 90 minutes the choice is a slam dunk.So I set out with my much better half, with a pillow tucked under my arm, to the theatre.I looked up at the film like an earthling looking up at a solar eclipse with open-mouthed wonder as I stretched out in front of my first row seat ( thankfully the two rows behind me were empty so an ambulance or worse the police was not called)!.
And boy it was a treat! I travelled to outer space hanging onto the spacesuit of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and was immersed in the wonder of the universe for 90 minutes.Gravity has tons of science and a little bit of fiction but science fiction it is not.Not a single frame of this film feels staged, the wonder and amazement at man’s tiny but audacious conquering of space almost 45 years after we set foot on the moon, is finally fully realized on film.
In the opening scene we see George Clooney and Sandra bullock at work in space, outside their spaceship.This is filmed with such excruciating attention to detail that we immediately know that we are not watching your average CGI mashup space with hunks strutting their stuff in tight sexy suits. Hell I was already telling JJ Abrams in my head to watch it a zillion times before he makes his next Star Trek film.
We know that planet Earth looks beautiful from up there, and we catch it reflected in the visors of the space suit worn by the actors many times.Sometimes the earth passed by behind Clooney flirting with the damsel in the face of extreme distress, and when we cut to Bullocks reaction we see it precisely reflected in her helmet.Was Mr Cuaron doing a spacewalk with his cameraman and just recording what these guy were upto?They might as well have been! The last film which filled us with wonder at the marvel of filmmaking technology was Avatar, but I daresay Gravity uses technology in a much more sophisticated and satisfying way.
Sandra Bullock was once a damsel in severe distress in Speed, a film that has become a cult classic for sucking us into its action with great skill.Ms Bulllock in Gravity ups the ante significantly with a bravura performance that leaves us completely spellbound.She trained for six months before the shoot to prepare for this role and the hard work is up there on the screen.This film has been stuck in development due to studio reluctance to grapple with the demands of its making and at one point Angelina Jolie was cast in place of Sandra Bullock.That would have been a terrible distraction no doubt.
Realism in cinema is always difficult but achieving it in outer space with an extraordinary attention to detail is something special and this film more than convinces us that everything we see is completely real down to the reflection of sunlight on the nylon cord that snaps at a crucial moment and the way it floats in space like a ribbon meticulously lit by reflected sunlight. Moments like this make it a great piece of visual cinema.The greatest film about space is arguably Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, which remains one of the greatest films ever made.Gravity may not join that league but I believe Kubrick would have been more than satisfied with its craft and attention to detail.
Gravity fills us with a sense of awe about the universe, man’s audacious engagement with it and the film makers vision in presenting this spectacle to us, all at the same time. Apparently billionaires are already making paid trips to space, watching Gravity is way more neat and dirt cheap in comparison, without the bragging rights of course.Writing this brief review I can’t help but miss the presence of a Roger Ebert review of the film, I just wanted him to enjoy this one. While my current health does not permit me to do greater justice to this brilliant film, I do recommend it whole heartedly.If possible catch it on IMAX.
PS:I am reading Jim Holts excellent book ” Why Does the World Exist?” which searches for answers about the origins of the universe and this film seems like a perfect accompaniment.