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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Gravity (2013)


Cast:

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Writer/Director

  • Jonas Cuaron, Co-Writer

  • Steven Price, Music

  • Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone

  • George Clooney as Lieutenant Matthew "Matt" Kowalski

  • Ed Harris (voice) as Mission Control

  • Orto Ignatiussen (voice) as Aningaaq

  • Phaldut Sharma (voice) as Shariff Dasari

  • Amy Warren (voice) as the captain of Explorer

  • Basher Savage (voice) as the captain of the International Space Station

*Recognition:

  • Gravity was wide released on October 4, 2013, and emerged as one of the most successful sci-fi films of all time.

  • It was also the biggest box office hit of both Sandra Bullock and George Clooney's careers. It became the highest-grossing feature film in October history, surpassing the animated Puss in Boots and holding the record until 2019's Joker. Bullock's previous highest-grossing film was Speed ($350.2 million) while Clooney's benchmark was Ocean's Eleven ($450.6 million).

  • The film would receive near universal praise from critics and the industry, and was eventually nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actress (Bullock), and Production Design, and winning for Best Director (Cuaron), Cinematography, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.

  • Gravity currently holds a 96% among critics on RT, a 96 score on Metacritic, and a 3.5/5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Letting go of the past in order to survive; both literally and metaphorically.


Plot Summary: "Gravity" is a cinematic tour de force that plunges audiences into the relentless, unforgiving expanse of outer space. Directed by visionary filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, this space odyssey is a heart-pounding, visually stunning masterpiece that redefines the limits of human survival and the art of filmmaking.

The story unfolds high above the Earth's surface, where Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are on a routine spacewalk to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. However, their mission takes a catastrophic turn when debris from a destroyed satellite hurtles toward them, leaving their shuttle destroyed and the two astronauts stranded in the vast, merciless void of space.

Cuarón's genius lies in his ability to create an immersive experience that captures the terrifying isolation of space. The film's breathtaking cinematography, led by Emmanuel Lubezki, pulls viewers into the weightlessness and disorienting chaos of the cosmos. Through seemingly unbroken, mesmerizing long takes, Cuarón allows us to witness the beauty and terror of space, emphasizing the fragility of human life in the face of the universe's sheer indifference. "Gravity" is more than just a technical marvel; it's a meditation on the human spirit's resilience in the face of insurmountable odds. Driven by Stone's determination and guided by Kowalski's wisdom, the film explores themes of survival, rebirth, and the indomitable will to overcome adversity. It's a gripping tale of human vulnerability and the quest for home and meaning amidst the vastness of space.


Did You Know:

  • The film's cascade of debris is a very real possibility. This scenario is known as the Kessler syndrome, named after N.A.S.A. scientist Donald J. Kessler who first proposed the theory in 1978. A cascading Kessler syndrome involving an object the size of the International Space Station would trigger a catastrophic chain-reaction of debris. The orbiting debris field would make it impossible to launch space exploration missions or satellites for many decades.

  • There are several references to Kowalski's hopes of breaking Anatoli Solovyev's EVA record. This is not for a single spacewalk (as of the end of 2014 that is jointly held by Susan Helms and James S. Voss, at 8 hours 56 minutes) but to the cumulative duration over a career. Between 17 July 1990 and 14 January 1998 Solovyev carried out sixteen EVAs on four separate missions, with a total time of 79 hours 51 minutes.

  • For most of Sandra Bullock's shots, she was placed inside a giant, mechanical rig. Getting into the rig took a significant amount of time, so she chose to stay in it for up to 10 hours a day, communicating with others through a headset. Alfonso Cuarón said his biggest challenge was to make the set feel as inviting and non-claustrophobic as possible. The team attempted to do this by having a celebration each day when Bullock arrived. They nicknamed the rig "Sandy's cage" and gave it a lighted sign.

  • Because there is no up or down in space, the opening twelve-minute scene was originally rotated 180 degrees but an off-the-cuff decision to play it back upside-down was made and Alfonso Cuarón liked it so much, he decided to keep it upside-down in the official cut.

  • When the script was finalized, Alfonso Cuarón assumed it would take about a year to complete the film, but it took four and a half years.

Best Performance: Emmanuel Lubezki (Cinematography)/Alfonso Cuaron (Director/Writer)

Best Secondary Performance: Sandra Bullock (Ryan)/Emmanuel Lubezki (Cinematography)

Most Charismatic Award: Production Design/Sandra Bullock (Ryan)

Best Scene:

  • "I have a Bad Feeling"

  • Debris Field

  • Off in Space

  • Letting Matt Go

  • ISS

  • Soyuz

  • Going Home

  • Touchdown

Favorite Scene: Off in Space/Debris Field

Most Indelible Moment: Letting Matt Go/Touchdown


In Memorium:

  • Sandra Dorsey, 83, American actress and acting instructor (Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, Gordy, Dumb and Dumber To), director and writer

  • Sir Michael Gambon, 82, Irish-English actor (Harry Potter, Gosford Park, The Singing Detective), four-time BAFTA winner and one of the founding members of the National Theatre in London with Lawrence Olivier.

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Matt Kowalski: So, what do you like about being up here?

Ryan Stone: The silence.


Matt Kowalski: Listen, do you wanna go back, or do you wanna stay here? I get it. It's nice up here. You can just shut down all the systems, turn out all the lights, and just close your eyes and tune out everyone. There's nobody up here that can hurt you. It's safe. I mean, what's the point of going on? What's the point of living? Your kid died. Doesn't get any rougher than that. But still, it's a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go, then you gotta just get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride. You gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start livin' life. Hey, Ryan? It's time to go home.


Matt Kowalski: You've got to learn to let go.


Matt Kowalski: Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.

Mission Control: Please elaborate.

Matt Kowalski: Well, it reminds of a story.


Matt Kowalski: I know I'm devastatingly good looking but you gotta stop staring at me.


Matt Kowalski: [looking up at Earth] Well, you've gotta admit one thing: can't beat the view.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 6.5

Impact/Significance: 9

Novelty: 7.25

Classic-ness: 8.5

Rewatchability: 5

Audience Score: 7.95 (80% Google, 79% RT)

Total: 44.2


Remaining Questions:

  • How long before the rescue crews found her?

  • Do you think someone would have actually survived all of that?

  • If offered, would you ever willingly want to go to space?

  • Now that we've covered both this season, this was one of the closest Best Picture races ever in 2013. Did the Academy get it right by awarding Cuaron Best Director and 12 Years a Slave Best Picture?

  • Why is her name Ryan?

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