‘Gravity’ turns 10

Dr. Ryan Stone struggles to survive the unforgiving void of space after her mission goes awry. Photo courtesy of The New Yorker

CAMERON POWELL | CULTURE REPORTER | cdpowell@butler.edu 

Read with caution, spoilers ahead. 

Oct. 3 marks the 10-year anniversary of the release of Alfonso Cuarón’sGravity”, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Nearly one year before the release of “Interstellar” and two years before the release of “The Martian”, “Gravity” was released, sparking a revolutionary era of high quality science fiction films unseen since “2001: A Space Odyssey”. 

Gravity was released in theaters on Oct. 3, 2013, and was met with high acclaim. It received a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7 on IMDB while also winning a total of seven Oscars in 2014. In a review written for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote that “‘Gravity” … is a brilliant and inspired movie-cyclorama, requiring neither gravity nor gravitas … [and] is a glorious imaginary creation that engulfs you utterly.” Presently, the film has grossed a total of $748 million ranking it 7th in the box office for suspense films of all time. 

“Gravity” follows the story of Dr. Ryan Stone and Lieutenant Matt Kowalski while on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. However, after a cloud of debris comes in contact with the satellite, Stone and Kowalski are left as the sole survivors of the satellite’s destruction. Their last hope was to reach the International Space Station (ISS); however, Kowalski was lost while both were attempting to grab hold of the ISS, leaving Stone alone. 

After boarding the ISS, another mishap leads to the station going up in flames, forcing Stone into a Chinese vessel to escape. She is lost and cannot communicate with her Chinese counterparts, which leads to Stone losing hope as she faces her seemingly imminent death. Stone is only able to regain faith after hallucinating Kowalski’s return. The constantly shifting atmosphere in the film keeps the audience guessing if Stone will survive. 

The acclaimed performances by Bullock and Clooney only make it harder for audiences to not get attached to the plot of the film. Bullock and Clooney have a very small amount of time together, but their onscreen chemistry is apparent with each interaction. That chemistry leaves the audience with a sense of dread and despair once the two are separated. 

Henry Bickel, a first-year creative media and entertainment major, is interested in technical aspects with film and praises “Gravity’s” use of character development and production. 

“[‘Gravity’ is] a fantastic example of how to tell a story without just telling a story through dialogue,” Bickel said.    

”Gravity” can be interpreted in various ways. The film ends with Stone finally succeeding in her goal to get back home. However, does she truly make it? 

The film’s ending is left up to the interpretation of the viewer to speculate whether the end of the film actually happened to the extent shown, according to the “Gravity” Fandom page. Earlier in the film, Kowalski returns to Stone, but it is revealed later that it was a mere hallucination, leaving the exact reality of the film ambiguous and unclear. As a result, the viewer could be left to wonder whether Stone survived or “…rather died in the Soyuz [Capsule] and either hallucinated finding paradise as she passed out, or made it into the afterlife.” 

Although the director of the film may not have intended upon the ending containing multiple different interpretations, the idea behind the movie having a somewhat open ending adds character to the film and engages the audience, leading to discussion between fans. 

However, “Gravity” also intrigues audiences who view the story from a less plot-driven perspective. 

Senior dance arts administration major Olivia Throop commended the film for inspiring her interest in astronomy. 

“I really enjoyed ‘Gravity’; it was very shocking, that’s for sure,” Throop said. “There’s a lot of catastrophic things that happen in it. It kind of built up my fear of space just a little bit, but I think it also made me a lot more intrigued about everything that’s going on out there. [The film] made me want to learn more about space and what it’s like to be an astronaut and the dangers of being an astronaut.” 

No matter how a viewer approaches the film, “Gravity” still has the ability to create an enjoyable viewing experience for all audiences. 

Junior economics major Lauren Crimmins highlighted how the film can attract and entertain individuals from completely different backgrounds beyond the interest of science fiction. 

“It was a good movie, and I think it [has] a really good plot,” Crimmins said. “I enjoyed watching it, and I would say to people “watch it if you [are at all interested] because you’ll be wondering, ‘Is she going to make it?'” 

As we enter a new era of film focusing on the concept of the multiverse, it is important to recognize and remember the lasting impact that films like “Gravity” had on the evolution of the science fiction genre. “Gravity” introduced special effects and plot development which changed the visual quality of films and the industry itself. 


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