Gravity: Less of a movie, more of an experience

Published: November 12, 2013
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The plot of Gravity, involving Kowalski and Stone stranded in space, is beautifully portrayed in the opening scenes of the movie. Space itself became their adversary. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Space movies have always enthralled viewers because of their special effects. Gravity’s plot is a typical space survival story but the way the scenes are shot makes Gravity less of a movie and more of an experience where viewers can feel weightlessness, solitude and chills running down their spine.

Director Alfonso Cuaron has taken the concept of space movies to the next level with Gravity. Movies such as 2001: A Space OdysseyArmageddon, and Apollo 13 are a few from this genre that were box office hits and still have a place in the viewer’s subconscious mind.

[Warning: some spoilers ahead]

In this space disaster flick, Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Lieutenant  Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) have to survive in space after the debris of a satellite, destroyed by Russia, changes trajectory and hits their space shuttle, Explorer.

Space shuttle, Explorer, destroyed by the debris. Photo: Publicity

Produced by Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron, Gravity’s cinematography is such that viewers are bound to remain glued to the screen from the beginning until the end.

The movie is free from cast clutter; where some are in space while the rest are busy heading matters at NASA headquarters. News reporters and family members also add confusion and distract you from the main plot of the film.

Gravity, on the other hand, only has three characters that appear on the screen.

Apart from Bullock and Clooney, the cast also includes Shariff (Paul Sharma), who is a part of the first 10 minutes of the movie until the debris kills him. The supporting cast only makes its presence as voices from Mission Control and the Russian Space Station. This keeps the movie focused on one plot as it tells the story of a surviving astronaut.

Wall Street Journal’s review. Photo: Gravity Facebook page

Although the movie has quite a few emotional scenes, there are certain moments of humour as well. For instance, in the opening scenes of the movie when Stone is busy fixing the glitch in the system before the debris hits the Explorer, Kowalski joyfully floats in space with the support of his jetpack for he wishes to beat the record of the longest spacewalk in history.

There are certain scenes in almost every movie that don’t add up towards the final scheme. Also, a film that casts only one or two characters sharing the same camera time can be monotonous. Gravity, however, was carefully planned and thankfully didn’t drag on unnecessarily. The story remains gripping because of Stone’s minute by minute struggle to survive in space.

One epilogue that I particularly like is when Stone is trying to grab the handle of the space shuttle so she isn’t propelled into space and her only hope for survival is the cord attached to the shuttle that is wrapped around her leg.

Kowalski, who doesn’t have fuel for his jetpack, is also trying to save his life by holding on to the same cord. Since his weight is pulling Stone away, Kowalski has no choice but to let go of the cord so that she can get to the shuttle.

As he floats in space moving away from Stone and drifts deeper into the black void, you also feel the loneliness that Stone experiences at that moment.

Kowalski lets go of the cord so that Stone can get to the shuttle. Photo: Publicity

The innovative cameras and digital technology used by Alfonso Cuaron to create the movement of astronauts in space makes Gravity all the more captivating. The cameras move swiftly between the astronauts and the space shuttle with Earth in the backdrop. Cameras were placed on robotic tripods similar to the industrial robots used at an assembly line of an automobile manufacturing factory. This gave the crew ample room and ideas to make scenes that we normally don’t get to see in movies.

Kowalski and Stone float in space while admiring the view. Photo: Publicity

Whether or not Kowalski is dead and whether Stone made it home would be entirely up to the viewer.

muhammad.omar.iftikhar

Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The author is a freelance writer and blogger and writes for various English dailies of Pakistan. He tweets @omariftikhar twitter.com/omariftikhar

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Moiz Omar

    FIRST time I actually liked 3D in a movie. Great movie.Recommend

  • Critical

    I watched this in IMAX 3D and mind you when I came out of theatre,I felt the same like how Sandra Bullock felt when she first steps on the earth….It look literally 5 minutes for me to realise that I was back in earth ..

    Truly,this was one of the best experience I ever had….I dont know if I might go to space but this is the closest you can experience it…Recommend

  • Umar

    What is a movie if not an experience? Bot&Dolly deserves a Technical Achievement Award by the Academy.Recommend

  • Hillary 2016

    Please explain how would you have an experience without a movie ? Did you put on your thinking cap before you arrived at this title?Recommend

  • Adil Uddin

    Watched in 3D this past Saturday night. Honestly I felt like passing out while imagining about a situation like this. In space, sounds can’t travel and if an object is set in motion then it continues to go in the same way unless an external impact stops it. I remembered few of my Physics chapters.
    I guess it was mostly about the protagonist’s will and technical details about their mission in space.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Great movie. Everyone esp. science students must watch it. Thanks for writing a great review.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    The title is an apt one : Gravity is more of an experience than a movie. And it is an ‘out of the world’ experience at that! This is one of the few times when I felt my money was well spent.Recommend

  • Omar

    Hillary, sometimes the movie is just a series of events that entertain us or send us into introspection. However, there are a few movies, similar to Gravity, that make the viewers experience everything that the protagonist is experiencing. 127 Hours, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away are part of this category. They have stories, but they blend with the viewer’s mind and then the magic begins.Recommend

  • sk

    Looks like Im the only one who didn’t seem to enjoy the movie one bit! Freaking slow and the fact they killed george clooney was sth I just couldnt digest!Recommend

  • Shahrukh Hassan

    Went to have this experience with my gf in SuperCinema at Vogue towers MM Alam Road. I must say its an unforgettable 3D experience one could ever have !!Recommend