AFI Movie Club: GRAVITY
GRAVITY was honored with an AFI Award in 2013 – recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. In addition to Sandra Bullock’s Oscar®-nominated performance as Dr. Ryan Stone, the film also stars George Clooney – a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award.
Watch Alfonso Cuarón, Sandra Bullock and more talk about GRAVITY:
Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM
DID YOU KNOW? Director Alfonso Cuarón was inspired by John Sturges’ film MAROONED in the making of GRAVITY.
DID YOU KNOW? Originally, Natalie Portman was going to portray the character of Dr. Ryan Stone. When Portman moved on to another project, Sandra Bullock stepped into the role and garnered an Academy Award® nomination for her performance.
DID YOU KNOW? Director Alfonso Cuarón and his team – including visual effects supervisor Tim Webber and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki – invented techniques to create “elastic shots,” combining live action, computer-generated imagery (CGI), computerized robots and a custom-made, 20 by 10 foot cube “light box,” containing panels fitted with 4,096 LED lights. Each of the lights had individual controls, projecting beams on the faces of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to indicate their characters’ environment. Action inside the “light box” was filmed with an Arri Alexa digital camera, but 80 percent of the picture was animated by computer, even the clear visors of the actors’ spacesuits.
DID YOU KNOW? Unofficially advised by NASA, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and the visual effects crew worked to portray the 90-minute duration of daytime that is consistent with orbits around Earth, and matched light sources with the characters’ location above their home planet – including “cool blue lights” when they were orbiting over the ocean and “warmer colors” reflecting the African desert.
DID YOU KNOW? Another innovation of the production was a 12-wire rig with a carbon-fiber harness, in which Sandra Bullock was controlled by puppeteers and filmed by various cameras on a motion-control rig to portray tumbling through space. It was challenging to comfortably position the actors in their harnesses and maintain the impression of weightlessness. According to Bullock, she was isolated and whipped around for prolonged periods of time, but she filtered her solitude and duress back into her performance.
DID YOU KNOW? Many of the film’s sound effects were recorded with contact microphones at automobile factories and hospitals.
DID YOU KNOW? In GRAVITY, the voice of Mission Control at the start of the film is none other than Ed Harris, who played actual mission director Gene Kranz in APOLLO 13 and John Glenn in THE RIGHT STUFF.
DID YOU KNOW? Glenn Freemantle, who won the Oscar® for Best Achievement in Sound Editing, achieved his distinct sound by recording vibrations. He said, “We even had an acoustic guitar in a tub of water…we put contact mics on the guitar, we put them on the sides of the bars, we put hydrophones inside it and then we would touch, all different things against the bodies of the guitar…to get the sounds that you hear in the film.”
DID YOU KNOW? GRAVITY premiered at the opening night of the Venice Film Festival. It was the first 3D picture to open the festival.
DID YOU KNOW? GRAVITY was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. The film took home seven Oscars® at the 2014 ceremony, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón and Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki. Cuarón is one of two directors who has taken home the Oscar® for Best Director, but whose films have never won Best Picture.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
– How does a film like GRAVITY lend itself to 3D? Does watching the film in 3D help enhance the story?
-How does the silence enhance the intensity of certain scenes?
-What does the film’s tagline – “Don’t Let Go” – refer to? Is “letting go” only a negative thing within the context of the film? At what points does Dr. Ryan Stone decide to let go?
-What is it that motivates Dr. Ryan Stone to survive?
-How does Dr. Ryan Stone evolve throughout the film?
-In the final shot of the film, Ryan crawls out of the lake, grabs the sand with her hand, and says, “Thank you.” To whom is she talking?
-What fear does the film emphasize regarding technology? Could you survive without the technology of today’s world?
-How would you rate GRAVITY?
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