Some movies you enjoy for the incredible actors. Some for the amazing story and slice of life you get to see as you take in the hours of entertainment. These days, almost all have a visual element that would’ve been considered enticing and interesting 10 years ago, but is now the norm for most films. That last little detail is what sets Gravity apart in 2013.
The acting is great, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
The story invites us in to ask ourselves the question of, “What would I do in a similar situation?”
But the visual. The visual elements of this film are what 3D was made for. As I settled into my seat, the movie started very unexpectedly. Completely silent, save the crackle coming from the busted speaker to my immediate left.
Gravity is a film set entirely in space, about the crew of a space shuttle mission, where the mission goes terribly wrong. Ryan Stone, played by Bullock, and Matt Kowalski, played by Clooney, are accompanied by another rambunctious astronaut on a mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope. Stone’s job is to do the fixing, Kowalski, the driving, and the other guy didn’t make it long enough for me to remember.
As the repair is taking place, our characters are informed of a possible issue heading their way. Those pesky Russians have decided to destroy one of their satellites which has sent debris shooting through the orbital sphere at incredibly high speeds. At first, this debris, “isn’t going to be an issue,” so we immediately know that it will quickly become an issue. It does, and our characters are placed in a perilous position where they are all detached from the somewhat stationary telescope and shuttle.
Stone is sent careening off into space, inciting a massive panic attack, and is all but incapable of communicating to Kowalski. She has no booster, rockets, or James Bond type propulsion to take her anywhere, so once she is able to communicate her position, Kowalski has to come to her. He eventually makes it her, and they connect.
Like two unexpected companions, in a very unexpected scenario, they connect. These two have no real reason to relate, appreciate, or enjoy each other, save one thing.
They have a common purpose.
They want to live. Who doesn’t in that situation? They have just been thrust into a situation where they are reliant on the oxygen left in their tanks, the gas left in Kowalski’s jet pack, and what little composure they can put together.
We often arrive at community the way Stone appears at this point. Pretty messy. Lost. Insecure, and full of doubt about the people we’re meeting. Untrusting and unsure about it all. But then we find some safety. Somewhere in the midst of a lot of broken people, we find community. We find Kowalski.
Kowalski is so many of the things we aren’t. The comfort found there, offers us hope, and a bit of peace. He offers us a solution to our problems. We just need to float our way over to this safe place. So we do. After a bit of time, we’re willing to follow that community just about anywhere.
So we drift, trusting in the guidance of those more seasoned, more practical and more reasonable, around us. Eventually, we make it to a place deemed safe, and then the worst possible thing happens. Our guidance is pulled out from under us, and we’re left with problems we don’t have solutions for.
Stone’s character is forced to operate completely void of that community. At first, she panics. I think we all would in that situation. I know I would. She begins to operate trying to recall the things Kowalski told her. Get to the transport. Take the transport to this other safe place. But as she begins to live out these actions, problems ensue, and she’s left with questions that Kowalski never answered for her.
Crisis ensues, and for me, I like to think I wouldn’t give up so quickly, but honestly, I just might. I think I may have given up a bit quicker. With no options left, she begins to give up, to the point that she calls it quits on life, and then she is reminded of two things.
I have truth, If I do this, this, and this, I can make it.
and I have community. Maybe they aren’t beside me right now, maybe they aren’t holding my hand, or encouraging us directly, but they are with me.
We find ourselves in this place, so often. Full of doubt, insecurity, and fear. Unsure of our options, and completely void of any answers to life’s big questions, but in that, we can trust in this, if we can find ways to remind ourselves of truth, and remind ourselves of the love and support we have, we have hope.