October 4, 2013 2 Comments
A couple years back I came up with a film classification scheme that breaks down the three main avenues for film into the intellectual, the emotional and the sensory. With Gravity, long overdue on the heels of Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron establishes himself as the top sensory filmmaker in the business. While it won’t find itself right at the top of my favorite films of all time like Children of Men, Gravity did deliver a similar stunning theatrical experience.
Matt (George Clooney) and Ryan (Sandra Bullock) are astronauts doing repairs to the Hubble. Matt, as the veteran of the crew, is joking around a bit on this fairly routine mission. Then things go very wrong and the film begins a nearly unbroken 80 or so minutes of adrenaline fueled tension as they struggle to survive. The 3D cinematography is legitimately stunning and the sound design. It captures the weightlessness and the disorientation beautifully.
For all the amazing sequences that are distinctly given power for their presence in space, two scenes (which I won’t describe to avoid spoilers) in particular captured my imagination as tying into the film’s thematic core, which is largely about rebirth and survival. I file these themes under sensory too because their strongest points are these purely visual moments. If the film has a weakness, it is in the talking as the film does get a bit silly at times or have phrases that just make you groan. But with the next moment of brilliance, that groan is lost like sound in space. This definitely joins the ranks of essential cinema experiences.