These days, I approach all media critically as a matter of course. It comes naturally to me to look for the symbolism and coded messages present in any body of work. When people create, it's with an eye for transmitting a message; a way to convey their interpretation of the world, and the exciting thing about television and films is delving into those varied perspectives.
But I've just come from seeing the film Gravity for the first time and all I can say is, "WOW." I'm not entirely sure I'm able to form a cohesive thought about this movie because I'm so in awe.
The entire movie is like a slow motion ballet; elegant and graceful. The film's stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, float through the air like lithe nymphs acting out a play. And yet there are moments of such emotional intensity that it's almost unbearable.
Gravity is beautifully shot. It is absolutely wonderful to look at, and it really gives weight to the majesty and vast intensity of space. So much of the movie is simply a stark contemplation on our individual insignificance amidst the expansiveness of the universe.
Alfonso Cuarón has created here a world that is familiar and yet completely foreign. He will not allow you to escape the profoundness of the world as seen from above, and he will force you to observe in awe, the spectacle that is our lowly place in the universe.
What struck me too, was the overwhelming silence of the film that spoke to the loneliness of Sandra Bullock's character, "Ryan Stone." There are several moments where her panicked breathing is the only thing between the audience and an utterly complete lack of sound. Her sheer terror echoes all around you, and you can't escape it. The audience's first person perspective of her experience at several points heightened the suspense, and forced you to engage the film with all your senses. I paid rapt attention throughout, which is rare for me as I'm usually analyzing things internally as they unfold onscreen. This time, it was all I could do to take it in.
Plot-wise, this entire movie could probably be summed up on one sentence, but critically, there is so much here about the human condition that I genuinely don't feel qualified to talk about it. There is a reverence here; a respectful understanding that there is so much more than ourselves in play. This is a movie about disaster yes, but not the one you think.
Gravity deals with not just the disaster, but the aftermath; how do you continue to survive when you think all hope is lost? How do you push forward when you've exhausted your options? How do you fight when you have nothing left to live for?
We get to the heart of these questions primarily through Bullock's character, and boy does her performance deliver. We learn that Ryan Stone had a daughter who died in an accident, and that her death has weighed heavily on her heart, keeping her from moving forward and from pushing through; from doing any more than is required. But by the end of the film, Stone has reached deep into the depths of her pain to find the will to live. To fight against all odds to survive and to come out on the other side of her pain. Her final triumph makes the previous tribulations seem worth it; she found the strength to survive. Her struggles meant something.
All in all, I'm glad that I gave the film a shot. It has sent me into a contemplative tailspin for which I'm grateful. Gravity is an exquisitely beautiful and haunting translation of the trials of the human spirit. It will stay with you in a way that no other film ever has.