Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Directing 5/5
- Writing 4/5
- Cinematography 5/5
- Acting 4/5
- Production Design 5/5
Oscar Win for
- Best Directing
- Best Film Editing
- Best Cinematography
- Best Original Score
- Sound Editing
- Sound Mixing
- Best Visual Effects
Oscar Nomination for
- Best Actress
- Best Movie
- Best Production Design
+ Beautifully crafted
+ Well thought out
– Plot isn’t the most elaborate but Cuarón makes it work
This heavyweight of a film captured seven outstanding Oscars in 2014, amongst other crucial nominations. What makes Gravity, arguably one of Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki’s most stunning films, such an award winner? Clearly the film’s visual quality stands out compared to other Oscar nominees for best picture, which were dominated by biopics.
Gravity outpaces it’s competition because instead of simply trying to create a great movie, Cuarón uses the film to explore a bigger question.
What is the Purpose of Life?
In a place where humanity can’t survive on it’s own, how does Cuarón grapple with perhaps humanity’s oldest self-reflection?
In order to answer this question, Cuarón must establish an effective setting.
Right off the back, Cuarón expertly sets the tone of the film with the introduction. This opening scene is magnificent.
The film literally says “life in space is impossible.” Immediately after the title scene, the viewer is dwarfed by the enormity of the planet Earth. This in turn forces the viewer to become more self reflective as we watch.
Part of the setting in this film is the use of sound, or lack thereof. The sound editing Oscar is well deserved for the film. Dialogue is very well thought out since the cast is bare minimum. Music is seldom incorporated into the score. Instead, Cuarón focuses on the silence that encapsulates space. This causes the viewer to really see the immensity of the world we live in. The silence is at times beautiful but also suffocating.
By isolating the viewer in outer space with nothing, not even sound at times, the viewer is fully immersed.
Fight or Flight
Cuarón time and time again reminds us how fragile human life can be. The film’s focus on the struggle of survival demonstrates the purpose of life perfectly.
As the film follows Ryan’s struggle, the viewer is also struggling with their own dilemma. What would I do if I was stranded in space?
Ryan faces death numerous times attempting to get back to Earth. Through the film we learn more about Ryan’s struggle with her child’s death. At times, even Ryan doesn’t want to keep fighting for her own life.
At a certain point, she simply gives up. In the middle of outer space, what would any other person have done?
After her own internal struggle with deciding to continue to fight, Ryan chooses to find a way to make it to safety back on Earth. She chooses to live and keep fighting. It’s this choice that is the pinnacle of the film. As Ryan keeps fighting, we, the viewer, can’t help but choose to keep going with her.
All The Small Things
By stripping away all the “chatter” of everyday life and going to space, Cuarón leaves his cinematographer to beautifully capture what remains: the essence of life.
Lubezki’s handling of the cinematography captures this essence beautifully and very vividly. Lubezki’s style is fitting for a film that questions why we continue to exist, despite hardship.
There are numerous instances in the film that literally focuses on all the small parts. At first these are on the elements. From the small flames that start a fire to a drop of water, Lubezki is focusing on basic components of our planet. Then towards the end, there is the focus on life itself.
These impressive shots serve a purpose. Cuarón and Lubezki use beautiful film to effectively tell a story.
The increased focus on life helps solidify the answer to Cuarón’s question/Ryan’s quest for redemption – what is the purpose of life?
Despite all the hardships and crap that goes on in life, we must keep striving forward. That despite all the wrong in the world, such as with Ryan’s backstory, life is worth living because it is fundamentally fragile. This makes it all the worthwhile to keep going day after day.
Written by: GreenMtMan
Featured image: https://movie-screencaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/gravity-movie-screencaps.com-.jpg
First five: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBFgzvWJSMs
Letting Go: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7y92kmVM8H0/Ul0H04Fbp9I/AAAAAAAABSU/fxL60Lo_ICQ/s1600/Screen+Shot+2013-10-15+at+2.18.01+AM.png
Final Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNPVpHMPwmk