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Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity


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Despite it being Vemsie's most anticipated film of 2012 we don't appear to have a dedicated Gravity thread, until now.

It is a project that has gone through some big casting changes with Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr originally signed-on to star then Marion Cottilard and Natalie Portman were tested and passed on the role. Now we have Sandra Bullock (an undeserving Oscar winner but if Cuaron can get a good performance out of Clive Owen I have faith he can do similar here) in the lead role with George Clooney playing the only other support.

There is still very little known about the film and no photos or footage leaked but I have collected together most of the major snippets.


Clooney will play the leader of a team posted at a remote space station. “While he and a female colleague are traveling outside the space station, the other team members are decimated by debris from an exploded satellite.”

From the synopsis and a recent Clooney interview it almost sounds as if the two leads are just floating in space for the majority of the film (like Open Water in space) which seems pretty ambitious. In the same interview he also compared it to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

From /Film:

  • The entire film will be made at Framestore. In effect the film, as Avatar was, is 60% CG feature animation with the balance being hybrid CG and live action elements.
  • The film is a contemporary survival thriller that follows a woman as she attempts to make her way back to earth after a satellite crash sets off a chain reaction of further crashes. Because it’s set in space, most shots require every element to float in zero-gravity.
  • But then factor in that this a stylish Cuarón flick, directed with his trademark languid feel, and you begin to realize the full scale of our challenge. Cuarón’s long and fluid style (the opening shot alone is slated to last at least 20 minutes) leaves no cut points to hide behind. In short, this is a hybrid of a fully animated, photo-real feature film with a blockbusting visual effects movie.
  • This is CG feature animation meets real world on a large and beautiful scale.

And a hyped Guillermo del Toro gushes about the technology:

"What is incredible about what they did is, they talked to David Fincher, they talked to Jim Cameron, I connected Jim and Alfonso for that. And what Alfonso is trying, is so insane. And Jim said, well, look, you’re about five years into the future…it’s too early to try anything that crazy. And they did it!"

"I think he would kill me if I reveal [what is so crazy about it], and in time it will be publicized, but I think that in the same way that he pushed the narrative in Children of Men…[they] are absolutely pushing a new boundary in filmmaking, completely mind-blowing. And they way they’re making [Gravity] will I think foverever change certain types of productions. The engineering and the ingenuity of the machines they’ve created to film that way is fantastic. I”m amazed at Alfonso in the last few movies, because he has completely transformed himself."

At <ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="$80">£50.53</ccc>m this sounds like a very expensive art house film and with Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, The Tree of Life, A New World etc.) on cinematography duty it is guaranteed to look beautiful. It will also be in 3D (surprise surprise) which may well suit its setting, the only reservation is that it is being converted in post-production.

There are so many unknowns about the film but on paper I think Vemsie was right to single it out as one of the films to watch next year.

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This looks super interesting indeed (apart from the 3D bit). We aren't at the stage where only 3D versions of films come out, are we?

I am not sure I agree with GdT about the narrative in Children of Men being advanced (I assume he is talking about the FX and camera work for those two sequences). The visuals were so impressive they actually took me out of the film where I was wondering how they did it (to the extent I actually stopped the DVD and replayed the road attack sequence).

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Great thread, Cookie!

It is indeed my most anticipated movie for reasons given in your post. The concept from what we know sounds very interesting, Clooney picks good projects in general, the DP is one of the best out there and Alfonso is a great director, from Y tu mamá también to Children of Men and the most beautiful and perhaps best of the Potter movies, he is a real talent. Of course the big words from Guillermo and Cameron help as well. :)

Can't wait!

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  • 1 month later...

Official synopsis:

Sandra] Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky [George Clooney] in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone–tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness.

The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left.

But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

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  • 3 months later...

Wow, they're certainly talking this up. I love Cuaron's stuff, so having him do some mad experimental hard sci-fi film is very exciting.

It's the first film since Avatar which I wouldn't mind seeing in 3D.

So how does this work: "But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space." Slingshotting round the moon or something? Wouldn't that take ages?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Some buzz from an early test screening. The effects are nowhere near finished but it sounds like it could be one of the more memorable films of 2012.

From /Film:

Our Germain Lussier didn’t actually attend the viewing, but he’s heard some others talking about it:

VERY unfinished but heard it’s visually ambitious, interesting but not world-changing.

The Film Stage‘s Jordan Raup, wasn’t present either, but the reactions he heard were more wholeheartedly positive:

Despite rough FX, hear good things about last night’s Gravity screening. “Masterpiece, phenomenal, visually amazing.” We’ll see in 200 days.

Not everyone was a fan, though. Briana Hernandez was blunt and harsh in her assessment:

Worst movie ever! #gravity

David Vendrell was more measured in his criticism:

Went to a test-screening for “Gravity” last night…it was far from being done, but it will be a visual feast when it is…and nothing more.

Happily for us Cuarón fans, Hernandez and Vendrell seem to be in the minority. A couple of more in-depth reviews were nothing short of glowing.

The Film Experience recapped the reaction of one of its readers who’d attended the screening:

Gravity is Cuarón’s masterpiece. It’s gonna be divided. Half will think it’s a self-indulgent borefest and half will think it’s amazingly brilliant. The movie is 80% just Sandra Bullock!

In addition, the anonymous lucky bastard called Cuarón “insanely monumental,” and predicted several Oscar nominations — especially for Bullock, who landed the lead after a messy casting process that saw folks like Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman falling away:

He went on to say that he thinks its her best work, particular in the final fifteen minutes (from which he assumes they’ll draw an Oscar clip should that time come) but that the film is Cuarón’s. He called likely nominations for Visual Effects, Picture, Director, Editing (“breathless” action), and Cinematography which he calls “amazing”. Regarding the latter, though, did anyone expect less from eternal Oscar bridesmaid Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life, Children of Men) and Michael Seresin (Midnight Express)?

AICN‘s guy on the inside was, if anything, even more entranced by the film than the Film Experience person had been, calling it “a fucking masterpiece”:

This is not just next level shit, this is several levels ahead of next level shit, & quite possibly the highest level shit you could possibly make. This is like if Avatar had been released in 1927 a week after The Jazz Singer. People won’t know how to comprehend what they are seeing. In short, Gravity genuinely makes you feel like you have been to space. It really, really does. And guess what? It’s beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and profound (and a little scary too), everything you thought it would be since you first thought about going to space when you were a kid. The movie exploits dreams it knows every sentient being has had, using the best special effects I have personally ever seen. I honestly don’t know how you could enhance a cinematic experience more. I kept waiting for a cameo from the Tupac hologram.

But by the way the film is shot, you feel hopeless. It has some of the best uses of first person POV shots I’ve ever seen, making you feel like you too are hovering right over the Earth, so close yet so far away. Other than Enter the Void, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more physically embodied as an onscreen character. It’s not POV the whole time though, Cauron breaks it up & often utilizes his signature ‘roaming-cameraman-who-never-cuts’ technique, which is very effective when there’s no gravity & for the ‘race-against-the-clockiness’ of the story. However, some people might end up saying that Gravity ends up being too light on story & is just an expensive space roller coaster ride, ‘Space Mountain: The Movie’ if you will. But those people would be wrong, stupid & ungrateful. Gravity is an important & subtle character study wrapped up in the guise of the most technologically advanced film of the new millennium. Sandra Bullock’s character has no family down on Earth. No friends. Her job is up in space. She’s struggling to get back to survive, but in truth, she doesn’t have much to live for down on that planet, so why even go through the effort? To me the film is about apathy and isolation. It’s about people today not knowing why they should be excited about living but only knowing they don’t want to die. It’s about looking at your own insignificance in the universe (or on Earth, or at your job, or at your school, etc.) & becoming empowered by it instead of defeated. And most of all, it’s about seeing what it would be like to float through space like an astronaut (spoiler: it’s fun).

You can head to AICN for the rest of “Stanley Boobrick”‘s lengthy review, which goes into more specifics about the plot and the FX.

Over at the Awards Daily Forums (via TFS), “clearwatergirl” also had a forcefully positive opinion:

I still can’t believe what a great movie this. Wow!!! I don’t think anyone will doubt Sandra again after seing this. what a performance!

Sandra was amazing and I think this will be an easy nomination for her. [...] As great as the directing and music was throughout, there is no way the movie could have worked so well if she wasn’t up for the task. I don’t think she has ever been more pyshical or vulnerable on screen and she did very well in the quiet, dialogue free moments. It’s a great vehicle for her.

Overall I thought it was a very suspenseful and engaging movie. Even with the extremely long takes it never dragged or became boring in my opinion.

There is a typical AICN response too.

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  • 6 months later...

Jeff Wells posted this:

A friend said he saw Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity on 11.12 and that it's really good. Roughly 90 minutes long, tightly fused, unfolds in real time (or something fairly close to that), a good story about a way out of a horrific situation, has fantastic 3D and a knockout opening -- something like 20 minutes without a cut.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Sorry about that, I thought (hoped) it was new as the film stage had retweeted the comment today.

Edit: looks like the guy was just quoting someone else (as in the quote from that article) and the film stage have figured its a new quote.

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  • 1 month later...

Footage shown at Cinemacon.


This was a fantastic teaser trailer as it basically set up the footage. It's clear we're not dealing with an alien or any other sort of strange post-apocalyptic disaster. This is a simple case of "space is scary and it's even scarier when you're going to watch yourself die in it."

All in all, it felt like one minute — but it was intense enough to leave a massive impression. Let's hope Cuarón keeps the real "terror in space" vibe alive through the end.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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