"Gravity" (in 3D)
I’m predictably sceptical about 3D cinema, or more specifically, the cynical money-grubbing that characterises it. Nevertheless, it has to be said that Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” really needs to be seen in the format for which it was designed.
The story is a simple one – an astronaut gets stranded in space whilst making a modification to the Hubble telescope, and struggles to make her way back to Earth. It’s a B-movie plot with an A-list cast - Sandra Bullock, effortlessly likeable as the heroine who is already struggling to find a will to live as the story begins; George Clooney as her coolly reliable, drily amusing co-worker.
Unlike previous successes in the format (I was especially fond of “The Life Of Pi”) 3D is inherent to the story-telling within “Gravity”, and is immersive throughout. We share Bullock’s disorientation and desperation via some gleefully impossible camera angles; both the imagery and the tension are breath-taking. The Cuarons (the co-writer is Alfonso’s son Jonas) play wittily with science-fiction clichés, as well as with the conventions of the format, with all sorts of objects floating around and hurtling towards us.
The film sticks strictly to Hollywood convention in terms of narrative structure, and the message, if there can be said to be one, is somewhat basic (“Choose Life”); but, frankly, it gives us more than enough to worry about without throwing in intellectual challenges as well.
The fact that Cuaron’s film is an artistic triumph does nothing to suggest that 3D is the future of cinema – there are few filmmakers who have the imagination to use the technology to its fullest, and not that many stories for which it’s appropriate. “Gravity”, however, is a major achievement, both technically and aesthetically.