The difficulty in breathing, the excruciating pains in different parts of the body, the changes in body temperature and heartbeat, the wheeziness, nausea and fear of what is going to happen in the next minute were all brilliantly portrayed by Ms. Bullock in her role. Ordinarily, those symptoms are also characteristic of an average woman’s menstrual cycle. Heck, they could have titled it “Puberty” in place of “Gravity.” Jokes apart, “Pregnancy” would fit best.
Truly on a more serious note, director Cuaron and team have done a remarkable job using cutting-edge technology to give the audience an enhanced outer space experience from the comfort of our butt-surfing seats. I must say that my respect for astronauts and the field of engineers who work on such incredible missions grew tenfold after watching the movie. I cannot even fathom the kind of ordeal the members abroad the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster went through. All seven members died as the shuttle disintegrated after entering into Earth’s atmosphere before it could reach the Texas landing ground. Abroad that mission was an Indian-American woman named Kalpana Chawla who immigrated to US, earned a plethora of esteemed qualifications, and underwent rigorous training to become India’s first woman astronaut and the second Indian till date to go into space. We salute all such individuals for their bravery, intellect and dedication in the field of aerospace engineering.
Gravity is the first widely released movie to give us a simulated experience of being in space. On that note, I highly recommend visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to experience a launch simulation inside a small-scale shuttle, that is if you can’t afford the $100,000 Virgin ticket to do the real thing. P.s. the Space Center website is currently down due to the government shutdown. [It’s amazing that the government was in session to discuss invading Syria but healthcare is what puts them into a coma.]
My friends and I had to wait in line to get seats at the AMC IMAX 3D/ laser field/super-galactic movie theater, which was a first for me. And mind you, this was after we had purchased our tickets, which were sold out in most NYC theaters (including the best IMAX screen at the Lincoln Center) for the whole weekend. The half-hour of trailers taught me that Hollywood films can be categorized into three distinct fields- the Bond spy who bags women just by breathing and escapes to beautiful locales to hunt down the villain hiding in a fortress like mansion in Russia/China/incepted dream. The second is a comic book adaptation of a superhero or group of superheroes where the villains seem to always find habitat in one densely populated sky-scrapered city. The third includes sci-fi adventures where green/ blue creatures with algae growing out of their nostrils hunt down aliens and monsters in the universe. This is, of course, in great contrast to Bollywood movie trailers which are usually about Love in Benaras, Love in Kolkata, Love and Gang-lord rivalry in UP, Love in my pants. You get the point. Lunchbox, BA Pass and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag are exceptions to the brain-numbing rule. On the sci-fi side, Krish 3 and Dhoom 3 seem to offer some variety. The sound effects in the former sound like a combination of Dark Knight and Inception boiled in one Roshan family kadhai and the other has Abhishek Bachhan in it. Enough said.
To be honest, Gravity doesn’t have much of a storyline as it is mostly the detailed coverage of a human being who is on a mission and ultimately goes through unimaginable circumstances to stay alive. Or as humans on earth can relate– landing a job after college. The space debris that continually makes a comeback in the movie is reminiscent of all the dust and pollution that accumulates in a Delhite’s home and lungs during the day. I was especially enthralled to see that (‘fetus in a womb’ inspired) brief ballet solo when Bullock finally gets inside the shuttle with less than 1% O2 levels and takes off her spacesuit. She bends and flexes en pointe, which goes to show that one needs to have great core muscle strength in addition to a great bod. Bullock also manages to fight against all five Ayurvedic elements of nature– fire (flames in shuttle), water (scuba diving after landing in a sea), air (the epic comet-like entry into earth’s atmosphere), earth and space. Naturally, some scenes seemed a bit far-fetched even for an astronaut’s voyage, the details of which astrophysicist Neil Tyson can attest to. Even George Clooney’s brief vodka drinking scene seemed more believable than Bullock launching herself from one space vehicle to the next and pushing Chinese lettered buttons with the strategy I still use to pick a road when I am lost—Einnie Minnie Miny Moe. There are some poignant moments of emotional breakdown and deep metaphysical connections between self and the universe. Had I been in Bullock’s suit, I would not have cried the way she did. In fact, I would have started crying much sooner when she was spinning non-stop and the magnificent view of Earth was jeering at her miniscule presence. On the bright side, this whole leaving people in space would be a great way to get rid of idiotic politicians. I’m sure Mamta Banerji would still be screaming about Maoists attacking her in outer space and Putin would write touching op-eds for The Alien Times.
At the end of the day, I feel fortunate to live in this era and witness such an amazing creation from Hollywood. The director took 4 and a half years to complete the movie which is more than any normal undergrad wants to spend in college. I’m also thankful that directors like Cuaron exist who don’t hesitate to think outside the box. Had Rohit Shetty directed the movie, he would have had Sandra Bullock swimming to the shore and immediately cut to her grooving in perfect choreography with island natives to “One Two Three Four, Get on the Beach Floor!”
Go watch the movie!