Spoiler Alert: Do not read this article until you have seen the movie "Gravity" (preferably in 3D)
I saw Gravityin 3D for a second time last weekend and am glad I did. A friend invited me to go and I wasn't sure if I would like it as much if I saw it again, knowing the plot. But I was surprised because I liked it even more. I found that there was more depth to it and I noticed things I missed the first time around.
When I first saw it at an Imax theater, I was blown away by the cinematography and 3D special effects. I actually felt like I was there drifting in outer space. The view of the earth, the sun, and the stars was spectacular.
All of that was there again on my repeat trip and I found those effects were just as intense a second time. But what came through to me more was the story, the humanity element of the film.
Even though there is not much character development in the plot and we know few facts about the two main characters, the personal conversations they have reveal small windows into their souls.
Ryan's recent loss of her 4-year-old daughter weighs heavy on her heart. Matt's cockiness and humorous story telling mask a complex man who has such compassion and courage that he makes the ultimate sacrifice of giving up his life to save his fellow human being.
I found that this is more than just another survival story. It is a film that addresses spiritual, moral, and universal issues, sometime in such subtle ways that you don't even realize it.
For example, in the scene where Ryan believes she will die because the Russian space capsule she is in is out of fuel, she picks up a conversation of some kind on her transmission although she cannot be heard. She hears some dogs barking and she begins crying and howling and then she hears a baby crying and a man singing a lullaby and it takes her back to when she used to sing lullabies to her baby. These are basic sounds of life we can all relate to because we all were crying babies at one point.
It reminded me of how recently when I was flying home and the plane made its descent, a baby behind me started crying and I found myself smiling. There is something very comforting about hearing a baby cry, something very primal. Babies just naturally express their feelings in the moment because they haven't yet been taught to hold their emotions inside.
When Ryan cries and the weightless tears float out to us, she asks if anyone will mourn and pray for her. I believe her concerns represent the fears in all of us. It is a moment of complete aloneness.
This scene is followed by an experience that totally changed my interpretation from one viewing to the next. When Matt shows up again and comes into the capsule to convince Ryan not to give up but try another way to get the spacecraft to move to the next destination of a Chinese satellite, at first I thought he was really there. When that turned out not to be true, I assumed she had hallucinated or dreamt his return.
The second time I saw it I came to believe he really was there, but in the spiritual realm, not in the flesh. It was a visitation, so to speak. Matt saved Ryan not just once or twice but three times. In a way, that part of the film reminded me of "Titanic" even though the two were not lovers. Who knows what might have developed if Matt had lived? They both sure did flirt a lot.
Another thing that struck me the second time earlier in the movie was Matt's exclamation of "Wow, you should see the sun rising on the mountains. It's beautiful" which turned out to be his last words. He was drifting into space and knew he was losing oxygen and I felt that moment was his acceptance of his impending death, a final letting go, and succumbing to the heavens.
Matt's visit whether imagined or real, woke Ryan up and changed her outlook. She wanted to live and she asked him aloud to find her daughter and tell her she loved her. Ryan's new attitude to me signified the beginning of her acceptance of her daughter's passing perhaps because her contact with Matt led her to believe there is more to life than just the physical plane.
Ryan's wild ride back to earth and harrowing tale of survival speaks to the human drive to live in all of us. The first time I saw the film, both of my friends expressed disappointment with the ending. I guess they wanted to see more of the reaction she would get when it was discovered she made it back. It didn't bother me at all. Like the "Wizard of Oz", the film to me is about getting home, not what happens after that.
Also, it leaves room for a sequel. How Ryan's life will change after her daring tale of survival could make for an interesting story line.
To me, Gravity was not just a film that explores space and warns about the accumulation of junk in the atmosphere. It is a thoughtful, well acted (you can't go wrong with Academy award winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney), suspenseful, visually stunning achievement with a soundtrack to match a story line that speaks of the human spirit, of life and death, and of human connections that bind us all.
Other things I hadn't noticed the first time included that Ryan had changed into a Russian space suit and there was a Buddha statue in the Chinese space capsule. To me, these subtleties remind us of the universality of the human race. From space, Earth is just one big planet that we all call home. And there's no place like home.