Friday, October 18, 2013

All you need is space. -Gravity!

 I finally got around to watching gravity, a movie I was preparing to go alone to because I couldn’t find company. When my best friend obsessed about the film over the phone I was quite sold on it. But I was dreading to go alone, but like all good things find a way to make themselves available to me, my aunt suggested we have a day out and what better way than to go out for a movie and coffee afterwards? 
Well, the thing with ‘Gravity’ that kept me hooked on to the screen was the visuals. The Blue expanse of the oceans and those landmasses are breath taking, after having followed Col Chris Hadfield on Facebook and being awestruck by the pictures he sent of the earth while he was aboard the ISS, you finally see it on the big screen! Oh it’s a treat alright. The pictures of the ISS, the earth and just that vast span of space you see in on screen are enough to make you want to watch the film a few times. I swear!  

Now, as for the criticisms that were levied against the film are 300% correct. You can check them here  Garrett Reisman, Former NASA Astronaut  or here Capt Samantha Cristoforetti (Scheduled to leave for the ISS, expedition 42/43) or Capt Mark Kelly, NASA Astronaut or our on earth astrophysicist Dr Neil Degrasse Tyson  Who is (generally awesome and is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space) However the criticism isn’t against the movie (the act of making the movie) as it is against the science stuff it got wrong like how Bullocks’ hair stays perfectly still, or why a Medical Dr is fixing the Hubble. But even in those articles the astronauts give full marks for visuals and for being correct about most things. 

I for one loved the film for a few reasons; I believe that any film has a ‘moment’. Any movie maker worth his salt will try to give the audience something that makes that moviegoer ponder. That catharsis moment, I like to call it. It helps you reevaluate, rethink, reconsider your previously held notions. A good movie or any semi decent movie gives you this. I’ve had it when I watched cartoon films like ‘The Smurfs’ or when I watched something like ‘Gravity’. 

When Bullock’s character says she likes the silence; admit it, at one point we’ve all related to that sentiment, the world gets too noisy, you want to get away. This voyage is that. She has that silence; she actually gets to go away. The beauty is that she still isn’t happy. Coming to think of it, you can run but you cannot hide. Your thoughts eerily follow you around. Not zero gravity, not dying, not fixing the Hubble, nothing distracts you from that weight you’ve been carrying around. 

If I brood a little further, the mission is both metaphorical and real. Metaphorical in the sense the running away from her daughter’s death and her running away to space or The silence of space and the silence she wants within are quite obvious. She isn’t willing to let go of Clooney just the way she isn’t letting go of her daughter. When she enters the Soyuz and floats around for a second in complete silence as she takes off her space suit, it is that moment she takes for herself, she takes those few seconds to get acquainted to the fact that she is truly alone, lonely. There are a few more instances when I saw the metaphor of Bullock’s life play out through the drama in zero Gravity. How she has been moving in life, tethered to one memory; her zeal, much like the oxygen is dropping. She isn’t dying but she is clearly not living either. 

As the film progresses, Bullocks character grows, she breaks free from everything that is holding her back, but the truth is that you never can fully, she is a tangled mess, but surprisingly she comes to her own rescue. She gives up and picks herself up again. When she talks to Aningyang about the baby, about the dogs, about the singing, it plays very well into the background that she is now yearning for life and that is slipping away, she let it slip away. Her hallucination of Matt is a reminder that all is not lost and if there is still something, anything to get back to that normal life she should try it. It won’t ever be the same but it’s worth it. That was my moment! 

I love Clooney (Who doesn’t) and Lt Matt Kowalski is funny, annoying, determined, looks shallow but is actually pretty deep as a human being. I read this piece on how it was quite ridiculous that he killed himself, but I think the point was not the tether, not the fact that both would die (or not)**, but it’s why he does it. He chooses not to risk both their lives for the possibility of saving both. Now, people have been known to do quite a lot of amazing things for complete strangers 26/11, 9/11, Deluge in Mumbai, Tsunami, retired Japanese people who volunteered to clean up Radio Active Waste from Fukushima. Now this is exceptional. But it happens. You do something that is beyond yourself, something you ordinarily wouldn't do. Would he have killed himself if there was a comfortable chance of the both of them to live? Obviously not. Astronauts don’t go out for a space walk and turn suicidal. 

Now, I am not very convinced about the end of the film. It’s like putting Maggie Lawate in charge of flying a Boeing (actually even a car, since I can't drive a car), it doesn’t “just happen”. Plus I refuse to believe that NASA would ever send out a half trained astronaut to space. Not when you are the member of something as elite a group of people who would be out in space, millions of dollars are on the line. Honestly, If you can’t be bothered to learn fly the damn thing, you probably don’t deserve to go to space. Very candidly, I would not have been too disappointed if Dr Ryan Stone had died. I mean look at the probability, she doesn’t know how to fly it, there is flying debris that have damaged the vehicle beyond help, there is no assistance, there is absolutely no help, she is looking at a language she has NEVER spoken or read in. She is looking at a control panel that is ‘similar’ to the panel in the Soyuz. Now that’s plain ridiculous in terms of using an automobile (even on earth). Unless similar means exactly the same, similar doesn’t mean much(That's for an expert). I cannot help but think about Columbia in which all of the crew members died to the gruesome accident. They had assistance and everything and there was not a god damn thing that could be done. 

But I guess this is cinema, you ignore a few things, you take creative license and at the end of the day Alfonso Cuaron delivered.  The end is another metaphor of finding ground, or being fully alive, the green expanse of the earth, she finds her silence both on the inside and the out. She puts her feet firmly on the ground and goes to live her life.

PS: In Titanic, People said that both Rose and Jack could have comfortably fit on the plank, but Jack chooses to not climb up, he would otherwise be risking both their lives.


  1. I really like the way you have written - mixing your thoughts and the facts about the movie. But I also feel that sometimes you have held back and not given too much opinion on anything in particular. Anyways that's just an opinion.

    above all I also loved the lines - "The end is another metaphor of finding ground, or being fully alive, the green expanse of the earth, she finds her silence both on the inside and the out."

    1. Hey Anshul, thanks for the comment! :D

      Well, I don't know where I've held back, but I do have a tendency to do that. As for what lines you liked, thanks again. :)


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