"Gravity" A Terrifying, Extraordinary Look At The Void Of Space

Oct 3, 2013

If you’re pondering what to do this weekend consider the shining reviews coming in for the movie "Gravity" with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Here’s Seattle film writer David Chen with his take on "Gravity."

The trailer for Alphonso Cuaron’s "Gravity" declares that at 372 miles above Earth, there is nothing to carry sound. No air pressure. No oxygen. Life in space is impossible. Over the course of this 90-minute film, the inhospitable nature of space is made abundantly clear in ways that are as riveting as they are terrifying. It’s an extraordinary, unique film and one of the best films of 2013.

It's an extraordinary, unique film and one of the best of 2013.

In "Gravity," Sandra Bullock and George Clooney both play astronauts. But when a fairly routine mission goes horribly wrong, they must use their wits and the instinctive desire to survive to try and make their way home.
 
"Gravity" is a remarkable space adventure because it attempts to depict the punishing environment of space in a way that few other films have. One major difference you’ll notice is that there are virtually no conventional sound effects, even as chaos is breaking loose, debris is smashing into spaceships and astronauts are grasping for purchase on anything that will keep them from hurtling off into the distance.

This creates an incredible eeriness that is hard to shake as the film progresses. We’re used to hearing sounds like the booming photon torpedoes of "Star Trek" or the whoosh sounds from X-Wing fighters as they fly past you in "Star Wars." Instead, we experience all the events of the film through the eyes and ears of the astronauts, as the muffled sounds of objects colliding reverberates through their space suits.
 

When you can't be distracted by the editing or cuts that you'd see in a normal film, you can really start to feel as though you are right there with these characters.

As with Cuaron’s previous film, "Children of Men," the action in "Gravity" takes place in long continuous takes that are technically dazzling to behold. This technique not only allows much of the film to take place in real time, it also adds a startling immediacy to the proceedings. When you can’t be distracted by the editing or cuts that you’d see in a normal film, you can really start to feel as though you are right there with these characters, a disembodied lens floating with them through the depths of space.

There were very few moments while watching "Gravity" where I wasn’t tense or on the edge of my seat. The feeling I was left with wasn’t admiration at the impressiveness of manned space flight. It was awe that we ever attempted it in the first place. I think that’s ultimately the message of the film: That if there’s even a small chance that man can survive in the endless void up there in the sky, maybe there’s hope for our species after all.