First of all, let's cut to the chase: “Gravity” is a movie that will make you never ever want to go into space.
Twelve minutes into the film a routine maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope turns into an all out terrifying fight for survival in the cold empty vastness of space. The two main characters Ryan (Sandra Bullock) and Matt (George Clooney) are set adrift in earth's orbit after satellite debris destroys their space shuttle. The audience then follows them as they struggle to get back to earth. Low oxygen tanks, faulty escape pods, and a recurring storm of deadly fast moving satellite debris doesn’t help. It's a nail-biter of a ride to be sure.
After their shuttle is destroyed, Ryan tells Matt about how she had a daughter who tragically died at the age of four. When Ryan got the news, she was driving, so every day after work she “just drives,” not willing to move on from the death of her child. Throughout the story, Matt tells Ryan to “let go” physically and metaphorically. This concept of Ryan's need to move on from her despair is mirrored by her need to not give up the fight to return to Earth. In a way, Ryan has been “floating,” absent of the earth's gravity for a long time and it takes the events of the film to show her that it is time to stop “driving” and start living again.
The truly incredible aspect of this story is its simplicity which allows the audience to take the metaphors presented and apply them to their own lives. Director and writer Alfonso Cuarόn spoke of the film as being “so tense so suspenseful, the audience experience becomes a visceral experience, almost a more primal experience, and by doing that the audience would fill the blanks. The audience would embed their own emotional experiences into the journey of our characters.” The audience feels Ryan's fear, her sense of loss, and her desperate need for air and gravity. For me personally, I kept thinking that if I were in her shoes my reason to go on would be my hope is in Christ. My worldview was able to implant itself into the framework of the story.
In a behind-the-scenes interview, Sandra Bullock summed this up perfectly. She said, “It's, I think, a story about what makes us try when there's nothing left to try for. When there's no indication that things are gonna get better or there's no light at the end of the tunnel...what is that faith for you that makes you just go the extra step, just in case it was worth taking the extra step to try?”
Gravity is not for the faint of heart. With that in mind it definitely earns it's PG-13 rating from one f-bomb and couple other profanities. This movie is also really suspenseful and scary. Watching it a second time, even though I knew what would happen, I was still biting my nails when Ryan frantically tried to detach her escape pod as a storm of satellite debris rained down on her. There are intense explosions causing Ryan and Matt be thrown around. All the other astronauts on the mission are killed: one is hit in the head by debris (we see him later, his face smashed like a piece of pottery), and the others are instantly frozen to death by the cold vacuum of space.
When Ryan is not in her space suit she sports a tank top and boyshorts. Matt also begins to tell “Huston” a story about how, during a past Mardi Gras, he found a girl he was looking for hanging out with a very hairy person who apparently wasn't a man
Gravity will definitely discourage any thoughts you might have had about going into space, but on the flip-side it will motivate you to keep your feet planted firmly on planet earth. Ryan had no hope or reason to live when she focused on what she had lost. She drifted through life without any desire to go home. Like Ryan, we can focus on what we have lost or what we don't have and walk through life without substance or hope. But when we realize our hope lies in Christ, He can help us move on and let go of things that prove to be empty. Focusing on Christ, our hope and our reason to live, gives us purpose. It gives us a reason to go home. That is what “gravity” is. It holds us down to where we belong.
This is one of those stories that I would label as being a truly “human” narrative. Grief, loss, and hopelessness – they are things that all people deal with, saved and unsaved. There are truths that are written on the human heart that only Jesus can fully reveal. Everyone knows there should be a reason to go on, but only through Christ can we be free to stand in victory with both feet on the ground.
*All quotes taken from special features on Gravity’s Blu Ray disc.