tue 20/08/2019

DVD: Gravity | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Gravity

DVD: Gravity

Oscar-sweeping space epic arrives in superior DVD package

Adrift in space: blind panic seems an appropriate response

It may not have won the Best Picture Oscar, but Gravity's sack of gongs for cinematography, sound editing, original score and more was richly deserved, while Alfonso Cuarón's acute directorial vision brought its own reward. I was amazed by Gravity on first viewing, and watching it again on disc it's even better. I've always found the notion of travelling into the infinite freezing vacuum of space a horrifying prospect, and perhaps only Kubrick's 2001 can match Gravity in its ability to evoke its incomprehensible and unfeeling emptiness. However, were one forced to part company with terra firma, George Clooney's unflappable, Willie Nelson-loving shuttle pilot, Kowalski, would be the ideal companion. As inexperienced doctor-in-space Ryan Stone, Sandra Bullock embodies the Everyperson view of what dealing with a shocking off-planet catastrophe might feel like, and of how any of us mere earthlings might react (start with blind terror and try to work your way back, basically).

The special effects are so smooth and seamless they don't feel like effects at all - you just think to yourself "yes, it would be like this". Keeping his story to a crisp 90 minutes, Cuarón meticulously observes the Aristotelian unities, so that we follow a single stream of events, gravity (or the lack of it) operates like the immutable law it is, and everything we see is what Bullock's character experiences. Outside influences - Ed Harris's cool Houston mission controller, or a crying baby and strange voices speaking an unknown language - are heard over a radio, and we make of them what we will. The music and intricate sound effects are critical to the film's mysterious and faintly spiritual allure, with Steven Price's music gliding between ethereal eeriness and climaxes of palpitating drama. In between, chunks of utter silence are wielded with devastating effect.

Atypically, the DVD includes a couple of wonderful surprises. First up is a full-scale documentary film about the ever-growing hazard of space debris (the destructive potential of which is at the core of Gravity's plot), narrated by Ed Harris and featuring a line-up of scientists and NASA boffins which would give the BBC's Horizon a run for its money. Plans to round up space garbage in giant nets or by using electrical polarity are more sci-fi-ish than the movie itself.

Finally you get a fascinating short film by the Cuaróns (Alfonso and son Jonás), starring the fisherman out on the ice floes of Greenland who picks up Bullock's distress message from space, and thinks her name is "Mayday". It's another little fragment of the left-field brilliance that has made Gravity an event.

Overleaf: watch 'Script to Screen' featurette about the making of Gravity

The special effects are so smooth and seamless they don't feel like effects at all - you just think to yourself 'yes, it would be like this'

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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