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Ten years later, Alfonso Cuarón’s: Gravity

2013 – Warner Bros. Pictures via IMDb
Movie poster for Gravity (2013)

Gravity is a 2013 science fiction cinematic masterpiece directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The main character and star of the film Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first space shuttle mission when suddenly her crew is notified that a nearby satellite has been shot causing a large amount of space debris. Dr. Stone is left tumbling alone through space after the shuttle suffers a strike from space debris. After her moral support, veteran astronaut Matthew Kowalski (George Clooney) sacrifices his own life to save hers, Dr. Stone must battle through the trauma of her past while trying to find the determination within herself to keep fighting to stay alive. This gripping and at times frustrating film is a masterfully created space film that not only touches on the theme of adversity but also serves as an allegory for human evolution.

One of my favorite hidden details of Gravity are the ties between the sequences of events that happen to Dr. Stone and the sequence of human evolution. A memorable moment to showcase this is when Dr. Stone enters the ISS and strips off her spacesuit leaving herself to curl up into the fetal position. The cord behind her in this shot closely resembles an umbilical cord, symbolizing her rebirth following the difficult situations Dr. Stone had to face. A similar idea appears in the ending scene of the movie when Dr. Stone has to once again shed her spacesuit that is weighing her down in the water which symbolizes her shedding her old skin and starting her life anew. Upon her approach to the shore of the coastline, she has to teach herself how to get back onto her feet and walk like an organism that has recently metamorphosed.

Despite being a simple space movie on the surface, Gravity is a film that was created to resonate with all of its viewers and the challenges they have had to overcome. Dr. Stone can be seen going through stages of grief and battling feelings of defeat due to feeling like she does not have anyone to live for anymore. Dr. Stone has to challenge her feelings of isolation and come to terms with the accidental death of her daughter she often blames herself for. Despite the circumstances she is under, Dr. Stone finds the will within her to keep going though safety is never guaranteed. A strong theme I can sense within this film is the power of choosing one’s fate and destiny. The story of Dr. Stone could have ended when she attempted suicide by releasing oxygen from the chamber, but it didn’t. Dr. Stone chose the path of continuing to try instead of giving up despite the hardships because deep down she knows she’ll be able to make it.

I am not generally a fan of Sandra Bullock and her acting but this movie was phenomenal. I could feel my heart beating faster every time I heard the soundtrack get more intense knowing that Dr. Stone would have something go wrong for her yet again. Upon some thinking, I realized that the ending of the movie can be left to interpretation. Perhaps Dr. Stone tragically committed suicide in the capsule and her walking on land was her journey into the afterlife. The beauty of simplicity and leaving things open ended is that it allows for more creativity. If Alfonso Cuaron would have added a clip of Dr. Stone getting rescued by a crew at the very end of the film, the film would not have the same effect anymore as Ryan Stone serves as a strong and independent female lead that does not need anyone to save her.

Gravity is a complex film that not only realistically depicts what a catastrophic space mission may look like but also explores the way that we as humans grieve. I enjoy the director’s choice of expressing themes within the film through visual metaphors instead of incorporating them into the script. The use of a single character throughout the film made every detail more meaningful as the audience begins to feel for Ryan Stone. Though it may sound cliche, Gravity serves as a wonderful reminder to appreciate the small joyous victories in life even when everything around us feels as though it is falling apart. Tasks may feel impossible to us in the moment and often may make us come close to giving up, however, anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

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About the Contributor
Sonia Jezierski
Sonia Jezierski, Features Editor

Sonia Jezierski is a Senior at Palatine High School and this is her 2nd year being an editor for Cutlass. She is the president of Ecology Club, enjoys testing her scientific knowledge as a captain of Science Olympiad, is the marketer for Foreign Exchnage Club, and the president of Choir. Jezierski also participates in Tri-M, Yearbook Club, Rho Kappa, Student Council, Service Club, NHS, and is a manager of Boy’s Gymnastics. Sonia frequently writes in her free time and enjoys spending her time volunteering at animal shelters. She hopes to study at a 4-year university to become an Environmental Scientist once she graduates high school. 

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