|Directed by||Alfonso Cuarón|
|Produced by||Alfonso Cuarón|
|Written by||Alfonso Cuarón|
|Music by||Steven Price|
|Release date(s)||August 28, 2013 (Venice)
October 4, 2013 (US) November 8, 2013 (UK)
|Running time||91 minutes|
Gravity was a 2013 British-American epic 3D space thriller-drama film with themes of disaster and survival that was co-written, co-produced and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The film starred Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as a surviving medical engineer and astronaut, respectively who are stranded in outer space after a catastrophe that destroyed their shuttle.
Cuarón wrote the screenplay with his son, Jonás and attempted to develop the project at Universal Studios. After the rights to the project are sold, the project found traction at Warner Bros. instead. The studio approached multiple actresses before casting Bullock in the female lead role. Robert Downey, Jr. was also involved as the male lead before leaving the project and being replaced by Clooney.
Gravity opened at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in August 2013. It's North American premiere was three days later at the Telluride Film Festival. It got a wide release in the United States and Canada on October 4, 2013 and in the Philippines on October 3, 2013.
Plot[edit | edit source]
A biomedical engineer named Dr. Ryan Stone was on her first space shuttle mission, accompanied by a veteran astronaut named Matt Kowalski who was commanding his final expedition. During a spacewalk, the debris from a satellite crashed into the space shuttle Explorer, destroying most of it and leaving them stranded in space with limited air. The debris continued to hit the other satellites, causing a chain reaction of destruction until the satellites necessary for the two astronauts to communicate with Mission Control in Houston are also destroyed. Even though they did not receive messages from Mission Control, both Kowalski and Stone continued to transmit "in the blind" to Mission Control in the hopes that Mission Control could hear them.
Stone tumbled out of control after separating from the shuttle's cargo bay arm. Kowalski who was wearing a prototype thruster pack as part of his spacesuit navigated to Stone and retrieved her. The two tethered together and made their way back to the Explorer where they discovered that the shuttle was damaged beyond repair and the rest of their crew are dead from anoxia as a result of space exposure. They decided to use the thruster pack to make their way to the International Space Station which was nearby in orbit. Kowalski set the timer on his suit for 90 minutes, estimating the debris that destroyed the Explorer would orbit the Earth and come back around in that amount of time.
Kowalski was ever calm and efficient in the crisis, continuing to reassure Stone that they would both make it back to Earth safely. En route to the ISS, the two discussed about Stone's life back home and the death of her young daughter in a schoolyard accident. As they approached the ISS, it was clear that the ISS crew evacuated due to the debris field causing damage. One Soyuz module for delivering the ISS crew and returning them to Earth was missing, used by the ISS crew to evacuate the station. The other Soyuz module was damaged and it's landing parachute was deployed as a result. It became clear that the remaining Soyuz module could not return them to Earth safely.
As they approached the ISS, they realized that they had almost no air left and only one thruster burst remaining in Kowalski's pack. They bounced off the many parts of the ISS as they attempted to grab on at their accelerated speed relative to the station. Stone was able to grab onto the ISS for a moment. However, Kowalski's momentum yanked Stone away from the ISS. As they both bounced off the ISS further, a solar wing that they passed severed the tether holding the two together. At the last moment, Stone became entangled in the parachute cords connected to the ISS and was able to grab hold of the tether connected to Kowalski. His additional mass stretched the parachute cords causing the two of them to nearly break free. He sacrificed himself for her survival and unclipped his strap, floating away to certain death. She floated easily back to the ISS now. Kowalski was still in radio contact with her, asking Stone about her minimal piloting training and instructed Stone to use the Soyuz capsule to travel to the nearby Chinese space station, Tiangong. Kowalski said that even if the Chinese evacuated, she could use a return module that was based on the design of the Soyuz. As a result, Stone's limited training may get her home safely. Kowalski continued to support her until he drifted out of radio contact.
Stone boarded the ISS which was damaged, but still had breathable air. Stone made her way to the Soyuz capsule, but a fire started from the sparking wires aboard the ISS. She tried vainly to put the fire out and finally got aboard the Soyuz. Once aboard, Stone undocked the capsule and proceeded to fire the thruster, but the parachute cables are tangled, keeping the Soyuz from getting free. Stone put one of the Soyuz spacesuits on and spacewalked outside to release the parachute cables from the capsule. 90 minutes passed and during the spacewalk, the satellite debris approached again, impacting with the ISS and the Soyuz. Stone barely made it inside the Soyuz in time, just as the debris field impacted and destroyed the ISS.
Stone went over the emergency manual and used the thrusters to line the Soyuz up with Tiangong. She attempted to fire the main Soyuz rocket to navigate to Tiangong. However, the fuel tanks are empty, having used all of the thrusts in an attempt to get untangled from the parachute. Stone tried to use the Soyuz radio to contact Earth, but she was only able to reach a farmer who did not speak English on a short wave frequency. Stone resigned herself to her fate of dying and turned the oxygen flow off in the cabin to hasten her eventual suffocation from carbon dioxide poisoning. She began to fall asleep, running out of oxygen when she saw a vision of Kowalski outside the capsule. Kowalski entered the capsule to Stone's amazement. Stone told him that there was no fuel left for the main rocket, but Kowalski, ever the optimist told Stone that the capsule still had re-entry rockets for a touchdown procedure. These would be just as useful for navigating to Tiangong.
Kowalski was suddenly gone and Stone realized that she hallucinated him in her oxygen-deprived state. She turned the oxygen flow back on in the Soyuz and implemented the information about the landing thrusters that she remembered from her training that was manifested through Matt. Ryan talked symbolically to Matt, asking him to tell her daughter that she loved her if he saw her, promising that she would not quit. Dr. Stone fired the thrusters, making her way to Tiangong. Realizing that she was going to miss the station by several dozen meters, Stone picked a fire extinguisher up and opened the Soyuz hatch while the capsule was still pressurized, blowing her across the distance. She navigated to Tiangong using the fire extinguisher as a makeshift thruster. Stone boarded Tiangong just as the entire station, having been pushed out of it's stable orbit by the satellite debris started to break apart on the upper edge of the atmosphere. Stone successfully entered the re-entry commands in the Chinese capsule Shenzhou's computer and the Shenzhou began it's descent toward Earth. On the way down, Stone heard Mission Control over the radio tracking the capsule while the rescue teams are being dispatched.
The Shenzhou splashed down in a lake in an uninhabited part of the Earth. Stone opened the capsule hatch, but the water rushing in nearly drowned her, pinning her against the back wall. Once the water pressure equalized, she swam out, but sank with the weight of her spacesuit. She successfully slipped out of her spacesuit and swam to the surface with the last of her breath. She swam to shore watching the remains of Tiangong and the other satellite debris as they burned up high in the sky overhead. Stone pulled herself ashore with difficulty and took her first shaky steps on dry land, gradually adjusting to the Earth's gravity.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone.
- George Clooney as Lieutenant Matt Kowalski.
- Ed Harris as Mission Control (Voice).
- Orto Ignatiussen as Aningaaq (Voice; also seen in short film).
- Paul Sharma as Shariff Dasari (Voice, likeness).
- Amy Warren as Captain Evans (Voice).
- Basher Savage as Thomas (Voice).
Production[edit | edit source]
The project was in development at Universal Pictures for several years, but the studio placed it in a turn around. Warner Bros. acquired the project which in February 2010 attracted the attention of Angelina Jolie who rejected a sequel to Wanted. Later in the month, she passed on the project partially because the studio did not want to pay her $20 million fee which she received for her latest two movies. She received $19 million for The Tourist and over $20 million for Salt. She also passed on the project because she wanted to work on directing her Bosnian war film, In the Land of Blood and Honey. In March, Robert Downey, Jr. entered talks to be cast in the male lead role.
Casting[edit | edit source]
In mid-2010, Marion Cotillard tested for the female lead role. By August 2010, Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively are in the running for the role. In September, Cuarón received approval from Warner Bros. to offer the role without a screen test to Natalie Portman who was being praised for her recently released film, Black Swan. Portman passed on the project due to scheduling conflicts and Warner Bros. approached Sandra Bullock for the role. In November 2010, Downey left the project to star in How to Talk to Girls, a project in development with Shawn Levy attached to direct. In the following December, with Bullock signed for the co-lead role, George Clooney replaced Downey.
Filming[edit | edit source]
Gravity had a production budget of $80 million and was filmed digitally. Live elements are shot at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios in the UK with the visual effects supervised by Tim Webber at Framestore in London. Gravity was filmed almost entirely in front of green-screens with CGI making up the bulk of the film's visual effects. Warner Bros. put so much trust in Cuarón that they allowed him to use an experimental, new technology to film the movie. To accomplish this virtual world that otherwise would not have been possible on film with traditional effects, the actors had to do complex coreography and act in front of nothing. The 3D was designed and supervised by Chris Parks. The majority of the 3D was created through stereo rendering the CG at Framestore with the rest post converted, principally at Prime Focus, London with additional conversion work by Framestore after filming wrapped. Prime Focus's supervisor was Richard Baker. Filming began in London in May 2011. Although the first trailer had audible explosions in it, Cuarón confirmed that the scenes in space would be silent: "They put in explosions [In the trailer]. As we know, there was no sound in space. In the film, we did not do that."
Music[edit | edit source]
In most of the film's official trailers, "Spiegel I'm Spiegel" was used, written by Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt in 1978.
The film score to Gravity was composed by British composer, Steven Price. The soundtrack album was released digitally on September 17, 2013 and in physical formats on October 1, 2013 by WaterTower Music. On September 5, 2013, a 23 minute preview of the soundtrack was released online.
Genre[edit | edit source]
The exact genre to Gravity received much debate. The film was considered by many to be a science-fiction film since sci-fi movies do not necessarily have to feature fictional science. However, Alfonso Cuarón himself denied this, claiming it to be a thriller-drama film. Others critics and audiences noted that Gravity drew from disaster and survival films. At one point, Sandra Bullock was awarded the Critic's Choice Award for Best Actress in an Action Film and when she accepted the award, she jokingly said on many occasions that not even the filmmakers knew that it was an action film. She also sarcastically thanked Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme for teaching her "all of what she knew" about being an "action hero". Overall, the only real genres to describe Gravity are thriller and drama, although it had themes of disaster and survival. The film had other themes such as action and horror also, but they are not the focus of the film.
Release[edit | edit source]
Gravity had it's wide release in 3D and IMAX 3D on October 4, 2013. The film was originally scheduled to be released on November 21, 2012 before being re-scheduled for a 2013 release in order to complete extensive post-production effects work. The taglines used for Gravity are "Do not Let Go" and "Life in Space was Impossible". Gravity was set for release on DVD and Blu-Ray home video on February 24, 2014.
Gravity was rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
Gravity had it's world premiere at the 70th Venice International Film Festival on August 28 where it received universal acclaim from critics and audiences, praising the acting, direction, screenplay, cinematography, visual effects, production design, the superb use of 3D and Steven Price's musical score. Film review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 97% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 203 reviews with a "Certified Fresh" rating with an average score of 9.1/10. The site's consensus stated: "Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity was an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that was masterfully directed and visually stunning". On Metacritic which assigned a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film had a score of 96 (Citing "universal acclaim") based on 47 reviews.
At Variety, Justin Chang posited that the film "restored a sense of wonder, terror and possibility to the big screen that should inspire awe among critics and audiences worldwide". Richard Corliss of Time proclaimed that "Cuarón showed things that could not be, but, miraculously, are in the fearful, beautiful reality of the space world above our world. If the film past was dead, Gravity showed us the glory of cinema's future. It thrilled on so many levels. And because Cuarón was a movie visionary of the highest order, you truly could not beat the view." He also admired that "Beyond technology, Cuarón played daringly and dexterously with point-of-view: At one moment, you are inside Ryan's helmet as she surveyed the bleak silence, then in a subtle shift, you are outside to gauge her reaction. The 3-D effects, added in post-production provided their own extraterrestrial startle: A hailstorm of debris hurled at you as a space traveler's thoughts at the realization of being truly alone in the universe did."
The film was praised by filmmaker, James Cameron who said, "I thought that it was the best space photography ever done, I thought that it was the best space film ever done and it was the movie that I was hungry to see for an awful long time". Gravity was named the seventh best film of 2013 by Quentin Tarantino, the fifth best in People Magazine and the best film of 2013 by Time magazine, Empire magazine, TotalFilm and MovieClips. Gravity was also the highest rated film of 2013 on IMDb, having already made it into IMDb's Top 250 movies of all time list, currently at number 126.
Many critics compared Gravity with other notable movies set in space and noted some references to them. The choice of Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control was seen as a nod to Apollo 13. Other references included A Trip to the Moon, Alien, 2001: A Space Odyseey and WALL-E.
By and large, Gravity was often thought of by all astronauts and scientists to be the most realistic depiction of outer space ever put on film.
Accolades[edit | edit source]
For more information, see the full article
The film won the "Future Film Festival Digital Award" at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. Bullock was awarded with the "Best Actress Award" at the 2013 Hollywood Film Festival for her "outstanding work in Gravity" and "a stunning and emotionally layered performance that showed once again why she was one of Hollywood’s most respected and popular actresses." It was also nominated for ten academy awards and won seven. Alfonso Cuarón won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director and the film was further nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress in Drama for Bullock and Best Original Score. Gravity also won seven awards from the Critics Choice Awards. It received eleven nominations at the 67th British Academy Film Awards, more than any other film of 2013 including Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress in a Leading Role. Including his nominations as producer (For Best Film awards) and editor, Cuarón was also the person with the most nominations with five overall.
Scientific accuracy[edit | edit source]
Main Article: Inaccuracies in Gravity
The movie was praised for the realism of it's premises and it's overall adherence to physical principles, despite a few inaccuracies and exaggerations:
The Hubble Space Telescope which was being repaired at the beginning of the movie had an orbit of about 350 miles. The ISS on the other hand had a more elliptical orbit at around 220 miles while the communication satellites (Which are taken out by the Russian collision) orbited at 22,500 miles. There was no way to migrate from the Hubble orbit to the ISS with a jet pack. Also, the debris field would affect either the communications satellites or the HST, but not both in the manner depicted. The director admitted that the film was not scientifically accurate, but the film required painstaking research to complete.
External Links[edit | edit source]
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