George Clooney

George Clooney ponders his role in the 4 1/2 year project that was Gravity

Director Alfonso Cuarón, apparently took four and a half years to complete this eagerly awaited film Gravity.

You may remember his famous 10 minute  accident scene tracking shot in his last film the moody classic “Children of Men”. He says this shot was an accident because he yelled cut but no one heard him.

Cuaron says he worked like that in Gravity too. Not that I could tell. Every tracking shot and scene are not only an incredibly emotionally gripping ride, but the scenes are finely crafted as we float in micro gravity as  the camera effortlessly glides through the  points of view of the central characters  Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) as each overcome one outrageous space obstacle after another.

One of the first questions I asked at the end of my suspended-disbelief roller-coaster through space was, “how did he do it?”

“How does one create micro gravity without leaving the planet?”

It’s a bit like asking the magician to reveal the prestige of his trick. It was four and a half years of storyboards and animation and rehearsals in very confined spaces for Bullock who credits her background as a dancer and NASA astronautic advice on the authentic way to hold and move a monkey wrench while floating 500km above the earth. I believe the director said he’d never make another space film.

The metaphors in this film are obvious.

  • Bullocks’ character is literally in the inertia she is struggling to overcome.
  • It is no accident she becomes foetal in the womblike Russian refuge she finds after overcoming the obstacles (in the shape of blown up Russian satellite fragments.

The jury is out on a couple of scenes:

  • when Matt Kowalski floats back into scene after a long absence (see if you think it adds to the plot or is a bit of a post editing afterthought) and
  • the earth’s atmosphere re-entry (impossible she doesn’t burn to a cinder).

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is mighty impressed with Gravity. The famed astronaut has  said he was “extravagantly impressed” with the film’s portrayal of zero gravity.

“Going through the space station was done just the way that I’ve seen people do it in reality,” he says.

Whether you find the plot credible and the special effects and 3-D elegant and commanding, Gravity places you right up there in space, along with the characters. That is the essence of Cuarón’s achievement: his technical virtuosity and the emotional grip it envinces become one.