Houston breaks in, alerting that a Russian satellite has been hit, causing debris to spread. And then there it is, hurtling at them and their spacecraft at 20,000 miles per hour. Explorer is struck and all contact from that tiny green and blue marble is lost. Stone is on her own in a fight against both space and her own fate, neither of which she’s meant to win.
Gravity is the latest film by Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón is one of the best filmmakers working today, having shown his unique vision with films like 2006’s Children of Men and 2001’s Y Tu Mamá También. Gravity, which he co-wrote with his son, Jonás, stands not just the highlight of his career so far, but one of the finest pieces of cinema.
Of course, much credit goes to the marvelous technical achievements. All of the elements—the cinematography (by Emmanuel Lubezki), visual effects (by Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shrik and Neil Corbould), editing (by Cuarón and Mark Sanger), music (by Steven Price), production design (by Andy Nicholson), and sound (by Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro)—don’t just enhance the story and film itself, but also seem to set new benchmarks for how each should be used in the medium. None of the production team acknowledges the idea of limitations and so help create a film that looks and sounds like no other. Of note is the use of 3D technology; it isn’t used to throw items at the viewer’s face (there are no ping-pong balls, although there seems to be a wink to the audience when a paddle drifts by), but to add dimension and depth, and to put the audience in the action, whether aboard a craft or floating in space.
Gravity is a tense, thrilling, frightening, emotional, challenging, and brave piece of work. It, like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, knows no boundaries, and not only presses genre expectations, but rises as an achievement that will not be matched for decades to come.
Shot Breakdowns (36:48) sees crew members discussing five scenes from the film: “Behind the Visor,” “Fire in the International Space Station,” “Dr. Stone’s Rebirth,” “The Sound of Action in Space,” and “Splashdown”
Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space (22:28): Narrated by Ed Harris, this documentary examines the role debris can play for space missions.
Aningaaq (6:53) is a Gravity spinoff directed by Jonás Cuarón, son of Alfonso.
Film Festivals lists the dozen-plus festivals that Gravity screened at.