The Great Black Void: Gravity in Review
**Minimal spoilers. I want you to see it for yourself. It's that good.**
I remember seeing the previews for Gravity (starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) and thinking, ”How can they possibly make a feature film about an astronaut afloat in space, and keep it interesting?” All of my doubts were put to rest in a beautiful 91 minutes of cinematic brilliance. It’s the kind of movie you have to see in a mildly uncomfortable seat, with 3D glasses tickling the bridge of your nose and the threat of a Suzy Seat Kicker behind you; this is a theatre movie. The breathtaking images of Earth are striking on the big screen, making you feel as if you’re really taking in that panorama from beyond the sky. You need a screen of that size to really appreciate just how vast the setting is--a nearly endless black sky--and the perspective of Earth as just a tiny dot amidst it all. The 3D effects coupled with first person camera angles keep you on the edge of your seat as you gasp for air along with the terrified astronauts.
But what struck me most about the film’s production was the use of sound, and lack thereof. By the end of the movie, I felt like my hearing had been sufficiently abused in the best way possible. It’s rare that a movie employs complete silence, and the eerie stillness that occurs on several occasions throughout the film are pointedly uncomfortable, especially when juxtaposed with the sounds of pounding hearts, rapid breathing and incessant mechanical beeping.
What was truly impressive about this film was that it didn’t succumb to the trap that so many effects-heavy movies do – it didn’t depend on bright lights and loud noises to cover up a poor story and cheesy dialogue. I was on the edge of my seat because the story was good, the acting was superb and the dialogue was believable, even if minimal. The characters aren’t fully-fleshed out, but they didn’t have to be for me to root for them and I found myself identifying with Bullocks’ character, Ryan Stone, whose personal tragedy is revealed about midway through the film. I identify with her panic and worry as well as the heartache and fear of loss that cripples her at times. Themes of rebirth and personal strength run throughout the film, and the mounting danger that is posed by the lack of gravity in space is balanced as Stone becomes increasingly centered and grounded.
For a movie whose setting is a great black void and spans only a few hours, there’s a lot of substance to it and it’s a film you won’t regret seeing. The plot is largely unexpected leading up to an equally surprising ending, and it’s got all the depth that’s promised by a title like Gravity. It may not change your life or offer you any new philosophies, but it’s a delicate balancing act of sound and silence, clarity and confusion, fragility and strength, loss and growth, and complexity and simplicity, all of which might leave you searching for your own centre and your own ground. If nothing else, you’ll get a chance to see how beautiful we look from outer space.