Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron- There has been enough hype and publicity surrounding this film to incur the dreaded Prometheus Effect … unrealistic expectations whipped up and soaring beyond any possible chance of satisfaction…but thankfully Gravity is not at all impeded by its robust advertising, its bus-plastered, five star, word of mouth hysteria is silenced as soon as the 3D goggles are on and you see. The visual mastery with which space, zero gravity and the experience of light are so vividly conjured is staggering. The pioneering effects (four and half years in development), which capture weightless movement, the eerie serenity of light and sound, and jaw dropping aerial depictions of Earth, are unlike anything before in cinematic representations of space. In addition to the visual spectacle, Cuaron’s camera moves with a continuous, roving mobility which lends the film an exciting movement that again feels utterly new. Rather than unfolding with the usual rhythm of cuts and scenes, the film instead seems to unfold in one dizzying take. The continuous floating cinematography travels through airless space, up close to an astronaut mask, through the helmet, rests in reflections of a dilating pupil and reverses with fluid ease to move from eyeball to earth. This fluidity, combined with genuinely effective 3D, makes for a film which becomes closer to an exhilarating ride.
The elements of dialogue that feel underdeveloped or that flirt with philosophical cheese become utterly immaterial – when a film looks this spectacular, dialogue is not an issue. Sandra Bullock carries the demanding performance with a natural and uninstrusive competence, allowing her depiction to become a more universal symbolism – an everywoman – an everyman – a vessel which enables the film and never distracts from the film. Cuaron also embraces the frequent visual implications of maternity, birth and intra-uterine existence. Tethering ropes between astronauts become precarious umbilical cords, the satellite becomes a womb, Sandra Bullock’s main character- detail relates to her lost child and so, again, emphasises elements of maternity, loss and birth. Space is traditionally mined for its metaphorical sense of the void, the external mapping of the internal and the unknown – but rarely have these notions been tied so eloquently to the life-bearing imagery of planets, teardrops, eyes and helmets, all as womb-like spheres in orbiting communication of the mother, the absent child, the Earth, re-birth and retreat. It is a film that deserves to be seen, both in 3D and at the cinema. It is rare for a film to draw its thrill with such equal and resounding success from both its diegetic action and visual prowess; Gravity triumphantly merges its space and time to create a (by today’s mainstream blockbuster standards) short, stream-lined narrative with which to perfectly deliver its spectacle of adrenalin. 9/10