GRAVITY directed by Alfonso Cuarón (USA, 2013)
Hedonistic sex and conspicuous consumerism are staples of the American film industry so a high grossing, critically acclaimed movie that includes neither is worth celebrating.
I’m not knocking the joy of fucking and shopping per se, but as a philosophical basis for a fulfilling life I don’t regard these recreational activities as the be all and end all.
In Gravity the immeasurable vastness of the universe serves as a spectacular metaphor for human potential and isolation, putting our existence into context by showing the relative insignificance of mankind.
Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) are the two astronauts lost in space forced to survive when all the odds are stacked heavily against them.
Gravity is remarkable for the astonishing special effects but you never lose sight of the fact that this is a human story.
What is it that gives us the will to live when our impact on the world is so negligible?
Such a question usually prompts reflections of faith and/or a belief in an afterlife. It is not a line of enquiry you expect to be posed by a Hollywood movie.
This spiritual dimension is hinted at but this is not a film that heralds the sanctity of life in religious terms. When Stone removes her space suit we see her adopt a foetal position with the wires of the space craft standing in for an umbilical cord.
Her first steps back on terra firma are like those of new-born child which means that machine that brings her back to earth can be seem as a womb that precedes a water (re)birth.
This puts the stress on the miracle of life within the cosmos as a biological phenomenon without any overt reference or reverence for a supreme creator.
Gravity is great entertainment but is also a reminder that all of us are alone on a lonely planet and survival strategies should not be dependent on belief in a supernatural being.