We measure a day by the rotation of the earth on its axis, not 24 full hours but rather 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds. More interesting, the earth’s rotation is slowing as time moves forward, and so our days are getting longer. 1.7 milliseconds longer than one hundred years ago, to be precise. Think I’ll use my extra milliseconds sleeping in.
What would move me to look up such a fact? In a word, Gravity.
I almost didn’t watch the Sandra Bullock film. Spinning in space with limited oxygen and no tether? Even from the safety of my favourite corner of the sofa in my cozy living room, anticipation of a visceral punch, sympathy oxygen deprivation and panic left me breathless.
Turns out my fears were justified. I like justice, for with justice comes great reward.
The film relied heavily on Bullock’s character, haunted heroine Dr. Ryan Stone. From a storyteller’s perspective, a one character (for the most part) film reduces the opportunity for dialogue. Ryan talks to astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), talks to herself, and talks to Houston in case they are listening, but it is the stellar earth-as-viewed-from-space scenery, the solitude and the silence, and Ryan’s impossible quest that propel the story forward.
And then there’s the action, enough to pack outer space with its intensity. I was right there in the shuttle pod ‘thingee’ with Ryan when she spewed her frustration into space, shouting, ‘Are you f*%$ing kidding me?!?!’
There may be no air pressure in space, but in Ryan’s gravity-deprived world, there is plenty of pressure. True to the Donald Maass school of make-it-worse, Ryan’s spin through outer space is a fiery, atmosphere-breaking dive through her own personal hell, bringing to bear her greatest pain, and forcing her to embrace faith and conquer her fear of failure.
George serves an unexpected and delicious slice of psychological sizzle in a scene reportedly written by the actor, but in the end, Ryan relies on and rescues herself. As for the film’s ending and Ryan’s landing, let’s just say it was perfection.