Gravity is only the second-ever film I’ve gone to see twice at the cinema on its initial run. The other one was… erm… Die Hard 2, but hey, back in 1990 you weren’t ever going to get a full widescreen video for some time, so the only way to experience all the action was on the big screen.
When it comes to Gravity, yes, widescreen is the default standard, but the experience with this film is quite like no other, as you’ll discover if you saw it in the cinema. The first time, I saw it in conventional 3D, but the second, I just had to make the trip to the Manchester IMAX to see it in the best way I ever will. I sat at the back and was blown away.
Watching it on the small screen… it’s still an incredible work of art. My TV is 50″ and I just had to watch it while standing up, thoroughout, eyes transfixed on the screen from start to finish. I don’t do that very often – in fact I’ve only done it for this, Life of Pi and Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, when it was broadcast on the now-defunct BBC HD Red Button.
Gravity deserves every one of its six BAFTAs and seven Oscars. These include Best Director but not Best Picture, the latter of which went to 12 Years A Slave in both cases. I haven’t seen that film yet, but those who make the decisions tend to give one of each to two different films when there’s a year where they can’t pick one over the other.
There’s a lack of the titular component in Gravity because it’s set in space.
That I knew. But what I didn’t know until I saw it was that it’s less a film and more an experience. Very few films that have 3D content actually use it in an engaging way, but this one has it in spades. I had a feeling it would be a visual feast because director Alfonso Cuarón‘s Children of Men was a wonder to behold. Amidst the dystopian future, the one thing which eventually struck you was that two scenes ran as a single take for around 20-25 minutes apiece. So you’re not only admiring the film for what it does, but also the way in which is constructed. And we weren’t just talking a couple of actors having a conversation, but large numbers of people onscreen at certain points. If one of them had giggled then you’d be back to square one. I’d love to know how many takes of each scene were required…
Anyway, coming back to the present day and a couple of actors having a conversation is exactly what you have here. However, early on, a lot of the conversation seems inconsequential. Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a one of those technical people who is required, in this case, to attach a new scanning device onto the Hubble telescope, while surprised by regular stargazer Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who enthuses about how much he loves the sunrise from up there, while she is just happy to have completed her first spacework.
Unfortunately, for them, Houston confirm (with a voice provided by Ed Harris) that a stack of space debris is on the way. Without going into too much detail about what happens next, things are not what you’d class as plain sailing and they have to abort their mission and head over to the nearby International Space Station, with Stone rather concerned that there’s a long distance to ‘jetpack’ from A to B while her oxygen supplies are depleting fast.
Go to page 2 for more about the film and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.