Gravity is an amazing movie. Not because I like George Clooney (which I do), not because Sandra Bullock gave an amazing performance from start to finish (which she did) and not because the story was “something else”.
In fact, the story was mediocre and – spoiler alert – the happy end was a tad corny. I’m generally not a fan of happy endings.
Gravity is amazing because it is not like other movies. (Most) Other movies are set on earth or on some fantasy planet. In other movies, gravity is a given and the characters, sets etc. are chained to the ground. In Gravity, there is no, and that screws with your mind in a beautiful way.
The scene at the end, where Sandra Bullock emerges out of the water made me wake up out of a mode of deep immersion into the movie. It’s a weird, amazing feeling.
For the first 15 minutes or so, I kept questioning the positioning of the camera. In hindsight I see that this was because my mind was confused by space and where “up” and “down” was. “Why is the earth ‘over’ George Clooney at this moment, why is the camera panning from left to right and the earth is on the upper half of the shot is such a weird shape?” But there is no ‘up’ or ‘down’, no ‘left’ or ‘right’. There is just space, two characters (this is finally the movie, where you recognize that George Clooney has aged, which is not a bad thing necessarily), a couple spaceships and pieces of broken satellites. And: no gravity. After those initial 15 minutes, I became accustomed to that and from then on, I just felt like a very close observant of what happened during the about 2,5 hours the movie revolves around. The experience was entirely new to me, it did not feel anything like the previous 59 times I’ve been in a movie theatre in the last 22 months. Of course, I’ve immersed myself into movies before, lots of movies, but never into one that takes place in space 98% of the time. And boy, does that change things…
The cinematography was great. Emmanuel Lubezki – who also did The Tree of Life beautifully (about the only reason you should watch the movie, if you’re not religious or don’t know the bible well) – should get an Academy Award for capturing every scene in the way he did. I would advise anybody to see this film in 3D, I’ve rarely seen it done better (maybe The Hobbit, which has five times the budget). Lubezki’s and composer Steven Price’s (music editor on two Lord of the Rings movies and Batman Begins) work were the main reasons for my wonderful immersion into the movie.
Also, Gravity is not like other movies, in that it almost feels like a documentary. I felt extremely close to what was happening. The 3D does contribute to that but also the fact that there is not much that could distract you from what is happening. No street noise, no extras walking around in the background, no pictures on the walls an apartment; there is just space, the green planet far away and the sun even farther away. So it does not feel like a documentary because you only get told facts and nothing is artificial or made up, it feels like a documentary because it focuses the audience extremely on what is at hand and with each minute you get to know more about exactly that and nothing else.
It is the cinematic counterpart of the experience of being in a flow at work.
Gravity is by no means my favorite movie of all time and I doubt it will win an award for best movie at any award-show. But it should be awarded for delivering an extraordinary experience. An experience quite like I’ve never had before. It is made for cinema. Except in overblown science-fiction/action movies à la Pacific Rim, that is something you don’t get much any more these days.