The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | ‘Gravity‘ breaks boundaries in film, immerses viewers in space

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Poster for 2013 Scifi-Fi Thriller “Gravity.” Contributing writer Mariana Quezada looks back at the film as it reaches it 10-year anniversary.

**This article contains spoilers.**

“Gravity” welcomes viewers into outer space with a quiet and lonely shot of planet Earth. The award-winning picture, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, has cemented itself as one of cinema’s best science fiction movies. “Gravity” celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Tuesday.

The film received 10 nominations at the 86th Academy Awards, including Best Picture as well as Best Actress for leading actress Sandra Bullock. Cuarón took the Oscar home for Best Director, his first win in the category, preceding his second success with “Roma.”

What makes “Gravity” stand out among other films set in outer space is its powerful use of setting. The protagonists are two astronauts, Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) who try to return to Earth after their space shuttle is destroyed in orbit.

From the first shot, the movie conveys the loneliness of outer space. The opening sequence, starting with planet Earth, lasts for 13 uninterrupted minutes. 

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In a 2014 Time magazine interview, the movie’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, explained that the film took many months to design and years to shoot. As part of the extensive research done to carry out the more scientific parts of the film, Lubezki consulted satellite pictures from NASA and Roscosmos for reference. 

In a recent interview with Empire magazine, Cuarón revealed that he initially wanted “Gravity” to be the first feature film shot in space. 

He said this couldn’t happen for two main reasons: financing and Bullock. Cuarón said the actress was against the idea of getting into a rocket, since she’d already suffered two flying accidents. 

Since “Gravity” came out, two movies have already been filmed in outer space: the comedy “Yolki 5” and “The Challenge,” which was partly shot at the International Space Station.

Despite not being shot in outer space, “Gravity” transports audiences there. For a large portion of the movie, the only actors in the scene are Clooney and Bullock. In fact, while other characters’ voices are heard mostly at the beginning, they are the only two people shown in the movie. 

This changes when at a pivotal part of the film, Kowalski and Stone, holding onto the ISS, realize only one of them will survive. Kowalski floats away, while Stone survives. From that point on, Bullock manages to carry the weight of the film alone until the end. 

One of the most beautifully shot scenes of the movie is when Bullock is pictured floating in the space station in the fetal position, with cables in the background resembling an umbilical cord. 

The film is not just about a woman lost in space, but about resilience and humans overcoming adversity, even with the most dire of prospects. The film utilizes a pure and isolated environment — that of space — to transmit this strong message. 

A decade after its release, “Gravity” remains a seminal picture. Groundbreaking at the time, it has since influenced other science fiction films, particularly those set in space. 

Truly, “Gravity” holds a message that transcends time and space.  


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