Friday, January 31, 2014


Unlike most movies that take place in space, Gravity is not science fiction. Alfonso Cuarón set out to make a "love song to space" and the drama of the film depicts space as a metaphor for human life. The film is based on a story by Cuarón's son Jonás and the two co-wrote the screenplay. Cuarón and his team pre-visualized the entire movie, shot for shot, to create the environment of space. The work took two years to complete before the actors arrived on set. Using an animation technique, each shot was blocked, timed and the actors key-framed prior to filming. The Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki invented a "Light Box" of 196 panels with 4096 LEDs each to create how light from the sun reflected off the Earth would realistically look in space. A computer-controlled camera on a robot arm filmed the action in the more than 20 foot tall and 10 foot wide box. A trademark of Cuarón's films are long, continuous, sweeping shots. The filmmakers began using what Lubezki called "elastic shots" to create extended floating sequences where the camera, actor and scene would rotate and roll around one another giving the feeling and dimensions of space. The use of 3D in the final product is restrained and sophisticated. Cuarón uses technology as a true artist. The technology makes the movie possible but does not dictate it.
The Oscar nominations for Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Directing and Best Picture are very deserving. With a total of ten nominations, Gravity is tied with 12 Years A Slave for the most nominations. The music of the film is as haunting as the imagery and the nomination for Steven Price's Score is equally fitting. Sandra Bullock faces uncommon acting challenges in Gravity. There are only seven acting credits for the entire film. All but Bullock and George Clooney are voice credits. Her character is mostly alone and the movie takes place in an environment created by technology. Dialogue also had to be perfectly timed to the pre-visualization process. Perhaps she makes it look easy, but the role seems more difficult than her Oscar winning role in the Blind Side. Bullock won Best Actress only a few years ago in 2010. Frontrunner Cate Blanchett won back in 2005 for Best Supporting Actress in the Aviator and has not won for a lead role. George Clooney oozes George Clooney-ness in his brief appearance in the film. It is clear why he did not receive a supporting actor nomination. He is playing himself in a space suit and it is fabulous.

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