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.