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'Gravity' exerts tremendous force

10/8/2013

Perspective is a wonderful and terrible thing. We say the world used to be a bigger place -- but how often do we actually stop and look up at the stars?

Perspective is a wonderful and terrible thing. We say the world used to be a bigger place -- but how often do we actually stop and look up at the stars?

In a time with larger-than-life problems, overwhelming schedules and extreme overstimulation, anything that can make a person feel small is powerful indeed.

"Gravity" made me feel like a drop of water in the ocean.

"Gravity" is a film that is all about perspective, and it is beautiful, terrifying, humbling, iconic and innovative all at the same time. At its core, "Gravity" is a story of survival. It's a wonderful juxtaposition -- the primordial instinct in every living thing set against the backdrop of the jaw-dropping achievement and, comparatively, the utter infancy of mankind.

The highest praise I can offer is this: "The Shawshank Redemption" is as close to perfect as films come, and "Gravity" has moments, one in particular, that stand toe-to-toe with "Shawshank."

One of the most masterful components of this movie is its silence. Director Alfonso Cuarón took a scientifically accurate approach to sound in space -- that being, there is none. Witnessing catastrophic destruction without hearing anything is jarring. There's real elegance and real terror in only hearing voices and breathing when a space shuttle is breaking apart.

"Gravity" is an experience. There is spectacle, there are breathtaking visuals, but the heart of the film is about emptiness of space and the emptiness in each of us, and what we choose to fill it with. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney both deliver solid performances. That said, I believe it was very intentional the power of the film is derived from the situation and, pun intended, the gravity of the situation. This isn't a human drama. This isn't a film about chemistry and how the pieces fit together. This film is about physics -- action and reaction.

If ever there was a film I would highly recommend to absolutely everyone, it would be "Gravity."

6 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation. Wish him a happy birthday at james.gerstner@gmail.com.