(Warning: Contains spoilers)
When was the last time you witnessed a work of art that you feel is so unprecedented, so avant- garde, that it seems nothing else that people admire, is worth admiring?
Alfonso Cuaró established quite a name for himself when he directed Children of Men. His camera techniques are quite unorthodox, and he is well-known for using unusually long single-shot sequences in his movies.
Perhaps a rival to his long-shot directing trade is Steve McQueen’s movie Hunger; it includes a 17- minute still-shot that contains nothing but two people having a debate about starting a hunger strike. Indeed, great concentration would have been required by both actors to actually achieve this feat, but Cuaró’s latest picture – Gravity – showcases how to not just defy, but elongate, twist, mangle, and ultimately crumple the frontier of video editing constraints that pro-longed uncut shots bring about.
The opening scene to Gravity is a 13 minute uncut sequence; an introduction to the major characters, their roles in the story, the exposition of the scenario, the incoming peril, the actual disaster, and the situation after, all assorted and deluged into about 780 seconds of ardent match- moving.
“What the hell are we doing with our lives?”
While Cuaró’s techniques might not have brought a revolution like Alfred Hitchcock’s movies did (Dolly Zoom!), it does shed light on the fact that even after decades and decades of its inception, the movie industry is still discovering new ways to keep the audience spellbound.
Even though much of the praise has been directed at the opening scene, it does not just end there. Sandra Bullock, who plays Dr. Ryan Stone, and George Clooney, who plays Matt Kowalski, have shown amazing thespian talent, using meticulously scripted dialogue to deliver intense feelings and emotions. One of the scenes in the movie that took most of us by surprise was the death of Clooney’s character close to the beginning of the movie. Initially, it seems to be a step in the wrong direction, but as the movie gradually transpires, it turns into a journey of self-discovery for Ryan.
One of my favourite scenes of the movie would have to be the part when Ryan eventually gives up hope to return to earth and decides to commit suicide by halting the oxygen supply in her cabin, when Matt returns to her during her dying minutes to convince her otherwise. They exchange quite a bit of words and the movie turns out to have succumbed to a cliché, only to be revealed that it was a hallucination all this time. Eventually, she manages to safely land back to earth, and walk away unharmed.
“Maybe I should just kill myself.”
Imagine describing the plot of this movie to an interested friend; it would be about an astronaut who is stranded in space and just wants to go back to earth. A motion picture is so much more than a story. It is not just a medium for narratives. It is not a novel. It is not a comic. It is not a poem, and it is not a picture. It is a movie; it is a collage of all the above, an amalgamation that combines all the elements of eye candy, emotion and entertainment to produce art that truly touches your soul.
Talha Saleh Khan