The disaster movie Gravity has won an award and is tipped for more..
Director Alfonso Cuaron thanked his mother and his leading lady Sandra Bullock as he collected his Golden Globe trophy. The movie – which was shot in the UK – also has a string of nominations for the BAFTAs – the British equivalent of the Golden Globes.
Jane Whyatt review Gravity for Future Intelligence:
Spectacular 3D images of weightlessness send astronauts and their kit apparently floating through the cinema. Planet Earth glows below us and the dynamic soundscape completes an immersive experience that is both terrifying and awe-inspiring.
‘Gravity’ tells the story of a routine NASA space flight that goes wrong when debris from a failed Russian satellite hits the capsule. Veteran space-walker Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and airsick newbie Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) are marooned in the void, tethered together and running out of oxygen. They have lost radio contact with mission control. As the movie unfolds, space travel rapidly loses its glamour. Dead crew members – horribly mutilated – hover like their own ghosts, coffined in their spacesuits.
The lost astronauts are forced to hitch-hike through the universe, hopping from their wrecked craft to a Russian rescue pod and a Chinese vehicle. With the ingenuity of Heath Robinson or Wallace and Gromit, Dr Stone contrives a survival tactic. So is this a knowing nod to the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Director Alfonso Cuaron certainly knows how to crack jokes. His depiction of Sandra Bullock’s character as a ‘woman driver’ who frantically thumbs the spacecraft manuals then presses all the buttons at once belongs to an American small town in the twentieth century.
Likewise the banter between Dr Stone and Matt Kowalski could best be described as ‘cheesy’ .The tinny country music he plays is light years away from the stirring classical melodies we associate with space travel – thanks to Stanley Kubrick’s iconic ‘2001-a Space Oddessey’. It seems that in this near future space travel is routine, almost mundane. Space is cluttered with junk. A multi-national team works closely together with the Cold War rivalries of the ‘space race’ a distant memory. The astronauts are just doing their job – one that Kowalski has done many times before. Mission Control has already heard all his jokes and anecdotes and the light-hearted atmosphere heightens the shock when the accident happens. The human backstories are thin and show that the two main characters are emotionally adrift. Scientifically and statistically no-one could survive the events that unfold in ‘Gravity’. So – is it all a dream? Hallucinations caused by slow oxygen starvation? That’s for you to decide.
Certainly the director Alfonso Cuaron intends you to suspend disbelief for ninety minutes and enter his parallel universe. He has even released a sidebar short film – perhaps you could call it a synquel – showing the other side of a surreal radio conversation between Sandra Bullock’s character Dr Ryan Stone and a native Greenlander called ‘Aningaaq’ with his team of husky dogs. This ‘son of Gravity’ is directed by Alfonso’s son Jonas and is already attracting thousands of hits on YouTube.
Aningaaq – sad yet slyly tongue-in-cheek – shows the human side of sci-fi. And there is a spoof of ‘Gravity’ set in IKEA, the home of flatpack furniture, that is already going viral.
With the British Science Minister urging companies to invest in space and build a Spaceport by 2018…
…Google backing a global contest to build and send a lunar lander, Dennis Tito aiming to send a mission to Mars within five years and Sir Richard Branson gearing up to launch Virgin Galactic space tours, extra-terrestrial exploration is capturing the public imagination again, decades after the original ‘space race’ ended with men on the Moon. This time the goal is commercial, apparently. Yet the cash-strapped military and intelligence communities must be secretly thrilled that entrepreneurs are funding the next-generation infrastructure they need to wage war in orbit and extend the range of global surveillance.
Watch the movie – and watch this space!
Review by Jane Whyatt at Future Intelligence.