Gravity (2013) Imax 3D

gravity-movie-posterYeah, 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.


2 thoughts on “Gravity (2013) Imax 3D

  1. Hmmm.

    I do like this film, but I fear there’s such a desperate need out there to find a New Kubrick [i.e. a writer/director who will approach genre material with a completely non-commercial eye, and spend big studio money making technically stunning films without a hint of pandering to lowest-common-denominator audiences] that we seem to leap to worship films that… aren’t… quite… there. Remember the awed expectation for ‘Avatar’ [before the trailers hit, anyway]? And ‘Inception’? And now this?

    This is nearest the mark, though. Again, if I could just strip out the tedious backstory for Bullock’s character, and lose the horrible Hans Zimmer-style music I’d be a lot happier.
    I saw it in 3D on a very big [but not IMAX] screen, and it was sensational. How do you feel about your favourite film being a CG animation? Pretty much everything except the actors’ faces was CGI. I’d like this to get the VFX awards for sure, but if it wins anything else [editing, photography etc] it’ll be a ‘Life Of Pi’-type debacle.

    I’m intrigued by your theory regarding the last act. I’d actually written a lot of it off as sloppy writing [for a film that makes a big deal about the precision and exactitude of space operations, Bullock sure managed to stumble through a lot of happy accidents and sheer good luck in the last leg of her journey], but I’ll be watching with different eyes as a result of what you’ve written.

    I’d like to strongly recommend another film that’s much, much smaller in scale, but blew me away [twice] this year: you should see ‘Upstream Color’ when it’s released here. It’s a genuine masterpiece. I would kill to see what Shane Carruth could do with a ‘Gravity’-sized budget.

  2. Regards my idea regards the films finale, when I voiced it to people who didn’t enjoy the film, or to ‘science-realists’ who think it just went more daft as it went on, its funny how they buy into the idea of it being a near-death or post-death experience, as if that’s easier to swallow than what we literally see happening in the film. Go figure.

    Curiously, having thought it through, if we examine the possibility of it all being wish-fulfilment or a post-death experience, where do we really see that start? I’m beginning to think it might be earlier on in the film, indeed, when Bullock goes spinning off into space after the debris strike. After all, the odds that Clooney would even be able to find her, let alone catch up with her, must be pretty remote. Maybe she lost conciousness due to hyper-ventilating or exhausted her oxygen supply. Following the parallels with Jacob’s Ladder, consider that him finding her represented an angel helping her on her journey, returning to the shuttle and finding her dead comrades represented the reality of death and her own fate, and Clooney-Angel, on the trip to the ISS, asking her about her life (taking stock of it?) and what ties her to Earth. It rather all fits, particularly Clooney-Angel’s own ‘fate’ regards her letting go of both him and her grief for her child, followed by her assuming a foetal position in the airlock. Her ‘journey to Heaven’, if that’s what it is, is a process of Rebirth, from that airlock through fire and further trials until, following Clooney-Angel’s sudden return and nudge further in the right direction, she returns to the shore, literally the shores of our own creation, and her child waits just out of our eye-shot. Yeah, complete nonsense, the director would be aghast. But it still makes for an interesting movie.

    Thanks for your comment, as always. I see Upstream Colour has just been released, I’d never heard of it, but I’ll give it a go.

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