When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was serious about my dream. I wrote school reports on the career, had the chance to meet Sally Ride, and even went to Space Camp the summer before I started middle school.
I don’t know when I lost my dream of becoming an astronaut. But when I saw Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity in 3D, the dream came hurtling back at me. Literally.
Moments of sheer beauty and moments of sheer terror punctuate Gravity. The opening scenes reminded me of the serenity in space, the possibility of dancing weightlessly. For more than ten minutes, the camera glides uninterrupted in space, fluidly showing us the earth down below and our main characters floating by the space shuttle.
Through the IMAX 3D screen, I was in space alongside Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock). Immersed in space, I thought, Why did I give up the dream?
But when debris from a destroyed satellite came ripping through the silence, I remembered. For all its seeming serenity, space is dangerous and terrifying, vast and unrelenting. Situations can go from peaceful to harrowing in a matter of seconds.
And the tension with which I watched Gravity reminded me of the cold reality of my former dream – and why it ultimately wasn’t for me.
As Dr. Stone was catapulted into space, spinning without a tether, I tried to put myself in her shoes. To think of what it must be like to be alone in space with a thin hope of rescue. And since the film seamlessly transitioned to point of view shots through her helmet, I had little need to imagine. Gravity put me right there with her.
But despite Gravity’s awe-inspiring special effects, its billowing camera work, and its epic score, its story is very elementary – primordial even.
It’s about life. It’s about death. It’s about letting go. It’s about never giving up.
Dr. Stone runs the gamut of the life cycle in Gravity through an epic journey that recalls the very best survival stories. For Gravity is a personal space odyssey, the story of a woman who must choose whether she wants to go on or not.
It’s about one human shaken to her absolute core. One woman in perhaps the most terrifying situation anyone can imagine.
To the film’s credit, so high were the stakes that I had no idea what the fate of our astronauts would be while watching Gravity.
Along the way, I laughed. I gasped. I cried. I cheered.
And what more could I want from a movie?