Tales of Life and Death

Written by Rosa Urtiaga Echevarría. Posted in CCSBlog

The first film one recalls while watching Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) may be Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a significant movie about the exploration of the universe. Yet, some other associations came to my mind after learning that Gravity’s suggestive photography belongs to Emmanuel Lubezki, who also shot Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life (2011) and To the Wonder (2012). The three films share an elegant choreographic style and some visual lyricism. In Gravity the space is the perfect medium to articulate the spiraling slow movements of the characters and floating objects, an effect that is intended in Malick’s last two movies through slow motion, and the evocative movements of the characters and the camera. In the three movies fluid motion of bodies in agoraphobic open spaces suggests certain subjective existential angst, loneliness and the void. Gravity and The Tree of Life are deceptive simple stories, tales of survival in various senses. The scarcity of dialogue opens up these movies to free interpretation. They are evocative movies, aimed to create sensations of loss, protection, terror, beauty and hope. They are abstractions to be sensed and felt. Like in The Tree of Life, in Gravity, the end of life and its creation merge with the successive evocation of death, dramatized by Stone’s (Sandra Bullock) return to the mother womb in the space ship, and a profusion of umbilical cords and corridors that enable the opportunity to be re-born. 

 

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#1 Julia Echeverria D 2013-10-22 09:48
I was about to post a comment as well. The photography may be as spectacular as (or even more so than) that of The Tree of Life, but I think Cuaron's achievement is that he is able to use a similar transcendental tone concealing it under (or merging it with) some action and melodramatic devices that somehow echo mainstream cinema--I couldn't help thinking about Wall-e dancing in outer space with a fire extinguisher the way Sandra Bullock does, or about the beginning of Platet of the Apes when she finally lands on Earth--, and the film succeeds in leaving the spectator breathless and in tension for much of the film thanks precisely to some Hollywood-like devices (Sandra Bullock becomes at the end almost the Brad Pitt of World War Z), something that I think is far from Malick's intentions.
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#2 Julia Echeverria D 2013-10-22 09:51
On a totally different note, I went yesterday to watch this film and I was amazed with the long lines at the box office. Maybe it was just the novelty of the offer (2,90€), but this seems to support the idea that if prices went down, movie theaters would not be at all as eerie and empty as they usually are.
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