SANDRA BULLOCK GEORGE CLOONEY
G R A V I T Y
In some ways, writer/director Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity completes the unofficial survival series that started with Cast Away (sea), 127 Hours (land) and now ends with Gravity (space). All three directors are noted for their magnificent ability to transform what we see on screen into a thrilling and suspenseful adventure ride that, if you let it, can deeply affect you. Gravity, with its groundbreaking visual technology, exceeds all previous survival themed films; the fact that a female is finally the focus of one of these pictures only elevates its importance. Cuaron’s vision has taken years to finally arrive on the screen, because the technology before now couldn’t do what the director had in mind. Whether Gravity wins best picture at the Oscars or is the highest grossing film of the year, I think it will be the defining moment of cinema in 2013.
When Commander Matt Kowalski (Clooney) asks Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) what her favorite thing about space is, she responds, “The silence; I could get used to it.” Suddenly, after nearly completing a routine mission and gathering results from a prototype Stone designed, the crew are inundated with debris that threatens their chance of getting home. Stone, spinning out of control, must listen to the voice of Kowalski as they search for a way to sustain life with no communication to Houston and rapidly deteriorating conditions.
Gravity is at its most obvious a thrill ride; it’s the type of experience in cinema that you want to share with everyone you know. Word of mouth will spread like wildfire. When you begin to read about the technology used to make the film and the fact that Oscar winner Bullock (who was not the first or second choice for the role) was challenged so physically and mentally, you begin to understand the achievements behind this project that only reinforce the effect it will have on you. Cuaron and son Jonas crafted a script that can speak to the audience in different ways, and I think the appeal here will be so wide that this film will resonate for years to come.
What I admire the most about this project is how having a woman in the lead role of a survival film, the setting of space, and the uncertainty throughout the film work so well together in captivating the audience from beginning to end. There are so many beautiful and stunning moments in the film that might go unnoticed because of our initial need and curiosity to see what happens in the end. I think a second viewing will allow more concentration on elements like the haunting score by Steven Price, or the fact that when all those explosions are happenings there is no sound. Gravity is the rare film that sets a new standard for cinema and far exceeds any expectation you might have of what to expect from this movie.
Final Thought – An extraordinary cinematic journey that will create a time stamp on the evolution of film.
Grade A+ By: Dustin Chase
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
How great it is to have Alfonso Cuaron back writing and directing films! Gravity is co-written with his son Jonas, and is about as gripping a tale as can be. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be trapped in space without a vehicle, but this film gives us a good idea. Ironically, the backdrop of most of the distress is a breathtakingly beautiful view of space, which George Clooney as Matt Zowalsky constantly reminds Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), but she is too scared out of her wits to appreciate it.
The two actors are perfect for their roles—Bullock as someone who was only trained six months for space, and Clooney being the calm voice of reason and experience who talks her through problems, sounding like a good therapist for a hysterical patient. Heroism comes easy for him, and he is just as convincing in that role.
Sandra Bullock is already getting a lot of buzz about her performance being Oscar quality, and this is reasonable. She essentially carries the entire film, with wide ranges of emotion and action throughout. I thought the script called for her to be a little too hysterical in the beginning, considering her age, background, and position; however, that is one of those circumstances where you really wouldn’t know what you would do until you got there.
Part of the success of the movie is the insertion of brief moments of lightness, sometimes talking to the voice of Houston (Ed Harris), and especially when Stone finally makes it to the Chinese aircraft just after her lowest moment. The story is so tension-filled (identification with Bullock makes it hard to breathe and loosen muscles sometimes), the viewer is very grateful for these brief moments.
Another part of the success of Gravity is the stunning cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, who has been on board with Cuaron’s greatest films (e.g., y tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men and recent productions of Terence Malick, Tree of Life and To the Wonder). He captures so well the ephemeral quality of both of these filmmakers’ productions, and, in addition, works CGI in seamlessly with live action scenes.