THERE’S no need to praise the movie’s technical quality. This aspect of the film is amazing. As good as advertised. What most struck me about Gravity was its solipsistic viewpoint.
The main character, Sandra Bullock, exists in a kind of cocoon. Not just within her spacesuit, and the various spaceships, but also within her mind. It’s as if any moment she’s about to drift away into space, to be alone forever—not physically but psychologically.
This, more than the impressive special effects, explains the movie’s appeal. The audience identifies with the character. Sandra Bullock has an everyman quality about her that aids this identification.
It’s a mark of where we are as a civilization that the movie is so focused on the self. Previous rescue-in-space movies like Marooned and Apollo 13 were depictions of cooperative teams. The frantic struggle of the hive to rescue a few of their own.
In Gravity this takes place off-stage. “Houston” is never seen. One member of the mission, “Sharif”—thrown in for obvious p.c. purposes—isn’t seen up close until he’s dead. We know, in fact, as soon as he’s mentioned, that his mission in the movie is to be quickly destroyed.
The other crew member, George Clooney, is a voice and a smile. His purpose is to be ethereal. An intermittent intrusion into the solipsistic Sandra Bullock viewpoint.
The movie shows where our civilization is now—at least among the intellectual classes. It’s not a healthy place. The chief intellectual, Bullock, demonstrates a bare willingness to survive. That she eventually gains that will is the movie. Otherwise she’s detached, grieving at the inescapable pain and injustice of life—which for previous generations was a given, but which for her has become an unrecoverable-from surprise.
Interesting that the three nations whose technology is depicted—the U.S., Russia, and China; the first two definitely—are suffering from drastic demographic decline. A disbelief in themselves. A bare willingness to keep going. Instead: solipsism. Escape into technology or pain-numbing prescription medication. Or vodka!
Space, in the movie, is frightening. At the very moment our advanced populations could be plunging into space, to explore it and populate it, and advance the species (there are no aliens, folks; we’re all there is)—propelled by ruthless, fearless adventurers—there’s seen instead a desperate rush back to the safety of the womb. To gravity.