Yeah, you read that right; Ghost has been back out to the movies, and a film in 3D at that. That sound you hear is the world halting on its axis and Hell freezing over. Well, I guess if I was going to succumb to the evils of 3D after all these many months of avoiding it, it would have to be because of something special. That’s what GRAVITY is; something special. But is it a movie? Even when watching it I had the impression I was less watching a movie, more experiencing an event. If GRAVITY has any shortcomings then they are clearly in the more traditional movie arena, things like plot, characterisation… but such things hardly matter when the damn thing looks and sounds so utterly overwhelming, particularly in Imax. If I ever watch any 3D movie ever again, I’ll be sure to make certain it’s on Imax.
Oddly enough, criticising GRAVITY for not having a truly great plot or characterisation seems almost redundant. In that respect, its much like that granddaddy of sci-fi films… and I’m not talking AVATAR.
GRAVITY may be the nearest thing to our generation’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. I guess that might seem like just so much hyperbole but I think its a valid comparison. Kubrick himself, I think, when talking about 2001 described the medium itself as the message, if any, of the film. It was Pure Cinema. Conventional film-making techniques, such as narrative, plot, characterisation, dialogue, were left behind by Kubrick. 2001 was an experience to be see, to be heard… and GRAVITY is like that. Its a sensory overload. The story is perfunctory, almost incidental. The genius about GRAVITY is that while so many blockbusters are huge entertaining thrill-rides that are ultimately as un-fulfilling as the popcorn being chomped on by the audience, this one has something of a soul and intelligence to it nonetheless. But regardless, its utterly beautiful. Every single shot is utterly convincing and a work of art. Its like magic, almost. Hell, make the Blu-ray barebones guys, I have no interest in any commentary or making-of featurettes, just leave the illusion, the magic there. The film is that good.
So yeah, comparisons to 2001 are inevitable, even beyond the similar subject matter. 2001 has many meanings to many people. It can have a different meaning each time you see it. Its the ‘true’ history of man, from Ape to Starchild. Its how inhuman and souless that the future of artificial orbiting worlds and moonbases and AI makes us. Its how utterly unknowable true Alien Intelligence will be. How small is our place in the Cosmos. How boring and mundane Space travel might actually be. That perhaps we should be careful not to lose our humanity as we leave the Earth. 2001 can be all that, and none of them.
GRAVITY isn’t really that profound, or trying to be, I suspect, and me making such comparisons between them is likely unfair to GRAVITY. GRAVITY’s meanings… well, I’ll leave that to the inevitable multiple viewings ahead on Blu-ray next year. Maybe its just about how deadly and strange space really is. Maybe its just about the grieving process, of letting go, of Rebirth. I think I’ll keep this Spoiler-free so won’t dwell on any of this too much, but if you haven’t yet seen the film, skip this paragraph completely, but… well, here’s the thing that’s been bugging me: does what we think we see in the film in its latter stages really even happen? There’s a moment late in the film, something happens, and, well, I really thought that the film had imploded, Jumped The Shark. Anyone who has seen the film knows what I’m on about. Its clearly something unreal, a vision even, or visitation, but even when everything apparently returns to ‘normal’. I have to ask- I had my doubts even when watching it, but I haven’t seen or heard anybody else pick up on it; what are we watching, towards the end? Are we back on Earth at the end, or in Heaven? Maybe its all literally happening as we see it, but I’m not so sure. I half-expected to see a little girl standing, waiting on the shore-line at the end of that final shot.
But anyway, if this film doesn’t clean up all the technical Academy Awards then the Oscars is even more redundant than I had thought. And here’s the strangest, craziest thing of all, that I’ll leave you to ponder with even as I am shocked to realise I’m writing this- Sandra Bullock here deserves a nomination at least. If she won Best Actress I wouldn’t mind at all. She’s that good. There. I’ve said it, and my reputation flounders in that statements wake. But she is very good, and yes the film really is that good. Film of the year.