Cultural Arts Review: The hit 2013 film ‘Gravity’

Posted on October 6, 2013 by

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Richard Collins from Forbes magazine says “‘Gravity’ doesn’t just wow the eyes, it stirs the soul.” This film is a film that brings many religious aspects to the table. When you look beneath the surface of this movie, many themes are apparent, especially on the topic of religion.

A basic synopsis of this movie is that Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical technician that has created a scanning device and is going into space to install this device and then go home and call it a day. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is a very experienced astronaut,  and accompanies her on this journey into space. While installing their equipment before heading back debris hits their space station and causes Stone to become disconnected to anything that can pull her back to the spaceship leaving one aspect of space as her ultimate enemy: gravity. She becomes lost and is floating near the Earth’s surface with oxygen running out and complete silence.

In terms of religious themes and aspects, I see three main attributes that could qualify as religious. One, a big theme is the idea of discovery among scientists. The two main characters are scientists that are looking for answers and allows science to do the talking. Stone and Kowalski work to figure out as much about the universe as they can so installing new scanning devices is of a high priority.  As humans, many believe that science can explain religion and holds many answers to all those “big” philosophical questions. But sometimes even science can’t explain every little detail. Kowalski in the film acts as that deep thinker that gives the audience another POV. He stops and stares at the beauty of the Earth more than once and takes in the little details that makes him and Stone stand in awe at its wonder with curiosity right behind it. How can science fully explain a beauty like the earth and the stars? It can’t in my personal opinion. This world researches and hypothesizes and wants so badly to see answers that sometimes can’t be explained by data on a computer screen. We develop new technologies all the time so people and see and then believe. It is our “tradition” so to speak. Looking deeper under the surface of scientific discovery, I think we need to believe in something bigger and more powerful than just data and technology–that there really is a God out there. In space? Heaven? Maybe even on Earth? Questions like these open up many doors for humans to discover that aren’t apparent on a microscope slide.

A second religious theme I found is fear. Dr. Ryan Stone is out in space with no gravity to pull her towards the Earth and is floating around the Earth’s surface with not much oxygen left and the signal to communicate with the base back home is dead. She feels she’s going to die because a rescue mission before she runs out of oxygen out in a dark, foreign place seems impossible leaving her only with fear. What’s going to happen to her? Where will she go to when she dies? Is there a Heaven or mighty being? Where does she go from here? Fear can drive any person to believe whatever will save them and prevent them from harm. It forces us to look inside our souls and see our true selves and what we believe to be true at the point of death. Nearly every person goes through this thought process in some way during the course of one’s life, in this case its Dr. Ryan Stone’s turn.

A third big idea that focuses in on a religious standpoint and that is a person’s career. People find that their careers bring them comfort and security when matters in life don’t seem to. We have a passion for them and hold onto them and their stability. This could be considered a religion through a different perspective when looking at the term “religion.” In the movie, Stone and Kowalski live their jobs everyday and find peace and new discoveries that give them purpose, especially in terms of finding answers to a phenomenon that we as humans don’t know too much about and that’s the universe. They devout their lives to their “purpose” and the world keeps on turning in their lives. To many, going to church and believing in God or gods or reincarnation (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, etc.) acts as their purpose and careers and jobs are thrown to the wind. Its amazing to see what people classify as “religious” and can end up having completely different outcomes and ideas behind that ideology.

‘Gravity’ is a film that, when taken the time to digest, can bring up questions that can really help one discover themselves and what religion really means to them, even when you’re 372 miles above the Earth’s surface.

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