The movie ends. I find myself in the lobby still processing my thoughts as my kids begin to beg for quarters in order to take a run at the arcade. I ask them to give me a second as I decompress from the movie. IT HIT ME THAT HARD.
Gravity was everything I expected and at the same time, nothing I could’ve ever dreamed of. A close to genuine experience of what it could be like to dawn an astronaut suit and be apart of a working mission; only to be thrown into an unexpected disaster, untethered from the only available home aboard a shuttle, and thrusted out into space with nothing but a prayer… and yet I didn’t even leave the theater.
This experience is why I return to the movies every weekend, to trick my mind into thinking imagination is reality. There are several components about this film that trigger these effects but I want to focus on the sound aspect. I simply loved the fact that they met the requirements “half-way” and didn’t get lazy when they were able to not have background ambience, or giant amount of foley, or huge sound effects. They still focused on the transference of energy amongst molecules by looking to project sound through other elements besides air. I loved that when they were using a powered tool on the metal exterior, there was still vibration that gave off a muddy sound transferred through the metal material. I loved the fact of perspective, transferring from third person to first person, changing how it would sound from just hearing what the mic gave off versus being inside the helmet. I also loved the fact that when a hail like storm of debris was crashing towards those two different space stations and the space shuttle, their was virtually no sound of all. I found this extremely effective considering that you couldn’t hear what was coming around the corner, you could only visually witness it once it was there, which to me was way more terrifying than the usual audible queue many movie goer’s have grown accustomed to over the years.
I loved the panning and how they followed the characters. for any other film, this of course breaks the main rule, all dialogue goes in the center channel. but with space, there is no center, there is no front. There a three different planes that you could focus on. I feel if the camera can move to, spin on, and rotate through all of these planes then why not the sound? It would’ve been one dimensional, but instead with panning characters, it was simply surreal. Thank you for breaking the fifth wall.
With the realism of the sound, the unbelievable graphics, the dead on acting, it was hard not to put yourself in the shoes of Ryan Stone and emotionally go through the events she was experiencing. I felt I was untethered from the space craft, and now, I’m glad I was.
Thanks to all of the creatives behind this film for untethering from conventional film making. This is why I go to the movies.