Gravity (2013) by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón

Gravity was a unique cinematic experience. The first time I saw it, I remember there was a point when I realised that the film had not cut for some twenty minutes straight. It was so smooth and gripping that only when the plot escalated, did I notice that the camera too had cut. Back when continuous takes were not the norm (and Cuarón and Lubezki were seemingly making magic happen), this stood out as their grandest achievement yet.

That said, this is a post about the script for Gravity which is a whole different beast. Here, Cuarón can only make us imagine space, and feel the loneliness mixed with dread, through words. Perhaps the thing he has to convey through the script that the film has is the extremely precise and tense pace at which the film plays out.

I hesitate to say that he succeeds in these tasks. While obviously action-heavy, the script starts off as an entertaining read. However, eventually, when only Ryan’s character is in play, without Sandra Bullock’s performance to hold our attention, or the score, CGI, and cinematography to paint the picture, the script becomes tedious to follow. This is not because it is poorly written, but rather that it is dealing with a subject matter only rocket scientists know about. Literally. Aside from them (and space enthusiasts), few would know what a control panel, a Soyuz capsule, or the International Space Station looks like. Sure, we might have an idea, but that is hardly enough when the character is trying to survive in this setting and constantly interacting with it, and you are trying to figure out what exactly this space might seem like.

Even then, Cuarón does try to establish a setting and give us a feel. It just isn’t enough when put in context with so much action. At least with other space-based films, we have a dialogue to rely on, and the story is not just about survival. One could argue that our frustration is similar to that of the protagonist (who too is a novice at space travel). This, I think, is the only fair argument. After all, if the audience feels what the character is feeling, then you’ve succeeded. I’m just not sure if that wasintentionalin the script.

Lastly, one must commend the script’s ability to do so much with so little. Stuck in space, with one main character, and few items to interact with, the script manages to still have depth and emotion. That said, the film far outshines the script… which I suppose it should.

reviews · blog · where am i? · main