Alfonso Cauron is an exceptional filmmaker who in the past has made great film after great film with the likes of Y Tu Mamá También, A Little Princess, Children of Men, and the best of the Harry Potter films with Prisoner of Azkaban. However, despite having a difficult time working on it, Gravity was his ultimate achievement, as well as his masterpiece, and you get that immediately from the opening shot and from there on, you’re know you are in for “one hell of a ride”. When debris hits their shuttle during a repair mission, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) make it their mission to find a way of getting back home to Earth.
“Epic cinema” is something that film-going audiences crave for nowadays in this age of film, and Gravity felt like “epic cinema” when it was first released back in 2013 and it still has that feeling now. You are completely immersed in that world for a variety of reasons; even though you are just watching it, you feel as if you are inside the spacesuit and out in complete zero gravity, completely taking in the isolation and the solitude of space. Also, you are completely engrossed by the story’s messages and themes, and that shows that why the film is also a honourable sci-fi film that’s enriched with concepts and ideas.
Despite the simplistic plot summary, the film is really hammering home the fact that the outer space has become the inner space where the empty blackness of the void mirrors the emptiness within these characters, which they must face and overcome in order to get back home. There is also, at the heart of the matter once again, the powerful parent/child story in which Ryan Stone faces her own parental ghosts through this perilous mission in order of performing some redemptive leap of faith. The self-discovering journey of birth to death, a rebirth of the soul, overcoming the futility of rescue and finding the will to survive in the face of inevitable death is symbolised through her character, and all that is portrayed masterfully by the acting powerhouse that is Sandra Bullock.
As well as mastering its story, the film also masterfully blurs the boundaries between the real and the digital/the physical and the virtual, resulting in an extraordinary ballet of the two entities. It’s an astonishing visual achievement and is a defining touchstone of what happens when humanity and technology collide to create something breathtaking; this is thanks to the combination of Framestore’s beautiful effects work and Emmanuel Lubezki’s incredible cinematography. Steven Price’s imaginative score also adds to the film’s emotional power, and even though this Special Edition release comes with a Silent Space mode where the music isn’t included, this needs to be viewed with the score included as it works hand in hand with the film seamlessly.
In the two years since its release, we’ve seen films that have followed in its wake with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Ridley Scott’s The Martian, films all remarkable and ambitious in their own right, but would’ve probably never existed if not for this. Gravity is a technical achievement that has a genuine heart to it, with strong themes, solid direction, great performances (particularly from Sandra Bullock) and a powerful score. But more than anything, it’s a perfect demonstration of the power of the image, and what cinema is really capable of.
Special Features: Gravity: Silent Space Mode / Looking to the Stars: The Evolution of Space Films / Gravity: The Human Experience / Sandra's Birthday Wish / Gravity: Mission Control (It Began with a Story, Initial Challenges: Long Shots and Zero G, Previsualizing Gravity, The Hues of Space, Physical Weightlessness, Space Tech, Sandra and George: A Pair in Space, Final Animation, Complete Silence) / Shot Breakdowns (Behind the Visor, Fire in the International Space Station, Dr. Stone's Rebirth, The Sound of Action in Space, Splashdown) / Aningaaq: A Short Film by Jonás Cuarón / Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space
GRAVITY: SPECIAL EDITION / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: ALFONSO CUARON / SCREENPLAY: ALFONSO CUARON, JONAS CUARON / STARRING: SANDRA BULLOCK, GEORGE CLOONEY, ED HARRIS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW