Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, just set a box office record for a fall-opening film. I left the theater unbelievably captivated and wanting to explode at the same time. *If you are going to see the movie, go see it and then read this, because this will contain spoilers. Also, in this review I am not saying I know the message the director of Gravity wanted to communicate. I am simply explaining what I picked up and what seemed painfully obvious, which still could be different from what was intended.
I was captivated by the cinematography and visuals of Gravity. Watching it is a bit like repeatedly holding your breath for a minute, then breathing for 30 seconds; holding your breath for a minute, breathing for 30 seconds; again and again. But while you are breathing, you are pulled into the the sights and sounds captured in a beautiful way. I found myself smiling at times at the views of the beauty of earth. I’d imagine this movie more than any other makes you feel like you are with the characters in space, feeling no gravity, overwhelmed by the hugeness of the earth. We need more movies of this quality and caliber. I think they shot the film in space.
The setting of the movie begins in space with 3 characters working on, I think, the Hubble. The reason I don’t know is because it is not a big deal, which you will see, seems to be the point of a number of things. We don’t know where they are from (obviously earth), or why they are there. They are communicating back and forth with Houston before they are told a large amount of debris is headed their way, unexpected and fast. Before you know it they are are hit. Matt (George Clooney) and Ryan (Sandra Bullock) are flung into space.
Matt finds Ryan and the rest of the movie consists of them trying to make it back home safely. We know very little of where they come from, what their lives consist of, or what their dreams are for the future. We just know they exist, and right now their existence hangs in the balance.
The movie reaches a climax when Ryan gives up. In a sobering moment she expresses out loud that we are all going to die but she is going to die today. She is coming to grips with the end of her existence. Not much hope, if any. Just a reality she must accept, however she accepts it. She has come to the end of her ability to save her existence, and she shuts down the oxygen flow in her satellite pod to go to sleep peacefully. She has no more reason to fight for her life.
She is interrupted by a dream, or hallucination, of Matt, telling her that she may not know what her future holds, but it may be a “hell of a ride.” That proves to be motivation for her to hold on, and she does. She makes it back to earth and the movie ends with her crawling on shore, overjoyed at the feeling of the earth. She stands up after not having used her legs in a while, and it is like walking for the first time; a new beginning. She is no place recognizable and the sky seems to be the limit. There are no known relationships waiting for her somewhere. Actually, she expressed out loud, at the point of almost committing suicide that no one will pray for her or mourn for her. What does the future hold for Ryan? She doesn’t know. And we don’t know. But she at least seems to have a future. She exists.
That is the hope Gravity holds out for us. In life we will suffer; life will beat us down. But we are here. We may not know where we come from, what we are doing, or where we are going, but we are here. We exist. And whatever lies before us may just be a great ride. We will eat, drink, seek to be merry, and we will all die. The hope Gravity offers is no hope at all. Gravity seems to say, “You and I exist. Knowing how we exist or why we exist is not so important. Just knowing that we exist and that we shouldn’t give up on our existence is what is important. Hold on to what you have, and what you have may be simply your existence.”
Of course, anyone who believes that all they have is their existence should at least hold on to it; but Gravity doesn’t seem to offer any more hope than that. But as a Christian, in this moment, Gravity makes me feel such joy that I have lasting, unshakable hope. I have hope personally and hope to offer others. What a joy to have more to say to people than simply, “I know you are real and alive; that is about all you got going for you.” Christians, gospel-believing people, are the answer to Ryan’s grief in the film when she mourns that no one will pray for her; that no one ever taught her to pray.
That brief moment in the film is the hinge point of the whole story. If someone teaches her who to pray to, it changes everything, absolutely everything. If someone teaches her about the Person who made her, who is the cause of her existence; the Person who sustains her, who holds her together; the Person who is the end of her existence, the true purpose she should live for, then she would have hope.
If only she knew that by Jesus “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” If only she knew that Jesus is the “firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” And if only she knew that Jesus can reconcile her to God, “making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Gravity makes me want to tell her.