A Techno Tango
Sep 12 2013
Galactic visuals, visible calamity and a sense of impending terror set the stage for a down to the wire ride in Gravity
Bullock’s Dr Ryan Stone is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission; veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) is commanding his final space expedition before he retires. They are on a routine spacewalk when debris from a satellite crashes into their space shuttle. Explorer is destroyed, and the duo is devastated. Tethered to each other and spiraling out into the widening blackness, the deafening silence says only one thing: Houston does not copy Explorer. The shuttle has lost all link to earth, and they are stranded in space with limited air and scant chance of rescue. Fear turns to terror, and every breath means the little store of oxygen is being depleted. The only way out seems to be stepping further into the terrifying expanse, and the doctor and the astronaut must co-operate if they are to even think about returning home safely.
Cuarón is wearing a lot of hats on this one — apart from being the director, he’s co-written, co-produced and co-edited Gravity. He tried to develop the project at Universal Pictures, but it took off at Warner Bros. A number of top actresses — Angelina Jolie, Marion Cotillard, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively and Natalie Portman — were in the running for the female lead before Bullock was finalised. Clooney was signed on after Robert Downey Jr opted out.
The permutations and combinations seemed to have worked well for Gravity, which opened the 70th Venice Film Festival this year. Galactic visuals, visible calamity and a sense of impending terror set the stage for a down-to-the-wire thrilling ride. The trailers showcase Cuarón’s skill with a single scene and uninterrupted camera work, creating suspense and artistic visual imagery. The silence (there’s no air in space, meaning no sound) is chilling and creepy — Bullock’s slight scream as she realises she’s drifted away from Clooney’s Kowalsky says it all.
Cuarón has been careful with the little details such as the speed of the incoming debris and the falling of the shrapnel. After the first trailer, which has audible explosions, Cuarón said: “They put in explosions (in the trailer). As we know, there is no sound in space. In the film, we don’t do that.”
Bullock, who earlier this year starred in The Heat, the most commercially successful comedy of 2013, doesn’t have much up her sleeve after Gravity. In 2014, she will voice the villainous Scarlet Overkill in Minions, a 3D computer-animated comedy and a spin-off/prequel to Despicable Me (2010).
Clooney will, towards the end of the year, be seen in The Monuments Men, based on Robert M. Edsel’s, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. Directed, produced and co-written by Clooney, the film also stars Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett.
Come 2014, he will also be seen in Tomorrowland, an upcoming sci-fi film directed, co-written, and produced by Brad Bird. Till that time, however, the duo will keep us on the edge of our seats with Gravity!