Cuaron scales new peak with gravity
By Aditya Shrikrishna | ENS | Published: 13th October 2013 01:42 PM |
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
For someone like Alfonso Cuarón who loves to emphasize his universe through long takes and tracking shots, space must be heaven in more ways than one. There is a sequence between seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) when they discuss the good things about space. They agree they like the silence. The part where you can just be yourself, tune everyone and everything else out and just reach a zen state of mind. It reads like a wish list for Cuarón himself and his way of film making and space - the endlessness gives him all the freedom to indulge in. He gleefully does and the result, much like the view that Kowalski repeatedly claims, is breathtaking.
This is certainly not indulgence in the negative way. Cuarón improvises and doesn’t just wish to take advantage of the stretching of space but also focuses repeatedly on the loneliness and the claustrophobic nature of it. This is space, there is little you can do with depth of field but Cuarón uses selective focus in fantastic ways. A long sequence seen from a flustered Stone’s point of view then loops back to focus on her, goes through her helmet and into her very uncomfortable situation. A similar effect is achieved by close-ups that show clear reflections on the helmet visor.
Gravity may be a sci-fi thriller but it thematically has little to do with science. The film doesn’t bother itself with plausibility because its ambitions are more visceral. There is the invisible running motif of hope in the most hopeless and distressing of states. There is even a possible advent of deus ex machina. The other theme that repeatedly rears its head in more obvious ways is the concept of birth. It’s almost a pet theme of Cuarón’s as it follows from his earlier film Children of Men. Dr Ryan Stone removes her space suit and curls herself into a foetal position as if signifying her rebirth after the catastrophic ordeal. This becomes even more apparent in the last shot as the film goes for a rousing finish that is uncharacteristic of Cuarón.
Gravity is a sweet and scary marriage of great special effects with genius filmmaking. It is nothing but pure cinema. As Dr Stone evolves, we evolve both as movie audience and with respect to our place in this universe. It might reveal a flaw or several with multiple viewings (which it deserves) but it will stay one thing throughout - fascinating.