Reviewed by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón.
Space. The final frontier. Where no-one can hear you scream. And now, a place where it is impossible to live.
This final statement opens the much-hyped, action thriller Gravity. I need to admit upfront that I was silly enough to miss this one at the cinema. I can tell that much of the amazement and marvel was lost on my television screen at home (although the lights were off!), however it’s still clear that Gravity is a masterpiece.
In a nutshell, this is a disaster film in space. Medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) are servicing the Hubble Space Telescope and are rocked about by a bunch of flying space debris. Both end up floating around in space with little oxygen and very little hope of survival, as the opening title has confirmed for us watching at home.
To reveal much more of the plot would result in spoilers, but to be honest, this film isn’t about the story. It’s about the cinematography, the sound design, and the deeper themes underlying the action. Director Cuarón has placed these two tiny human beings in this massive galaxy, and the backdrops of blackness contrasting with the blues of the earth and the gold of the sun are stunning. That these images are so believable makes you gasp at the peril of these space explorers. Even as they lost oxygen, I found my breathing becoming shallow – it’s incredible that you get caught up in the action like you do.
Cuarón skillfully breaks usual cinema convention to surprise. There are long, continuous scenes without cuts. Deathly silence adds to the horror of the catastrophe. And he achieves all of this in less than ninety minutes. The action is kept at a steady pace and suddenly, Gravity is over.
There are deep themes running through Gravity, and they are hardly subtle. Rebirth and evolution are toyed with through glaringly obvious symbolic sequences. But for me, the big thing that stood out is the frailty of humanity. Here on earth, we are in the right habitat – we have air to breathe, food to eat – earth is custom-made for humanity. But when you throw a human or two into space we see how small we are.
When the stars are a speck in a galaxy, what are we? So tiny. So insignificant. As I’ve mentioned before, Cuarón displays just how small and helpless we are against the massive backdrop of creation. And although this idea isn’t really obvious in the film, it’s what stood out to me the most. We have a God who created the universe, all that is in it, and as the Bible tells us he cares for us individually. I don’t know about you but that blows my mind beyond what any 3D experience could. The God who spoke the universe into being cares for you and I. He made us in his image, made the earth for us to live in, and even sent his Son Jesus to die on a cross to die for us. God loves us, his tiny specks, like children. Psalm 8:3-4 speaks to this idea:
When I observe Your heavens,
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which You set in place,
what is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him?
King David reflected on God’s love and care for humanity, but he hadn’t seen the ultimate act of love that we see at the cross. The God and creator of the universe sent his Son into his creation to die in our place so that we can have eternal life. That’s the biggest thing that God has done for us, and yet he still promises to provide us our needs each day. What amazing news for tiny specks like you and me.
Gravity has convinced me never to venture into space. Despite losing a little oomph on home media, I’m still giving it five out of five stars.
Gravity is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming on Quickflix.