Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outer Space

Dad and I went to watch Gravity this afternoon. It's been a while since I've watched a movie that left me so awed. The plot is simple enough: two astronauts stuck in outer space are trying to get back to Earth. And none of them is Bruce Willis. But from the very first scene with George Clooney drifting boyishly in the vacuum to the very end, after all the calamities have been endured, it was hard to look away. The eerie emptiness of space, the grandeur of the Earth as it spins in orbit, Sandra Bullock's terror at being severed from human contact. All of these were absorbed into a narrative that seemed to explore the vistas of inner space as much as it touted its obverse, astral counterpart. It's not an intellectual movie in the way Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was; things here work very well at a visceral, gut-punching level. But Gravity still made me think about stuff. Like, for example, how human beings are constantly confronted with the specter of death. (How is a spacecraft bursting into flames different from a house catching fire? Bodies burning smell the same everywhere.) And how, even in the wilderness of space, a human mind can encapsulate the possibility of its own death and seek restitution. Outer space thus ends up being a mere extension of our corporeal selves; carbon, hydrogen, ashes, dust. All perishable save for a few moments of grace.      


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