Gravity and Special Effects As Art
by Laura Scanlon
My husband, on the other hand, goes for science fiction, explosions, and car chases.
When we went to see Gravity, then, it seemed to more likely to be enjoyable for him. But it captivated both of us, and perhaps me the most. I gasped and clutched my seat as the camera first panned to show the Earth as seen from space, the black vastness of the universe beyond, and the characters, so tiny and vulnerable, floating between them.
I tend to think of special effects and a good plot to be mutually exclusive. Special effects, it seems, are inserted by movie makers too lazy to craft a good story, for movie watchers too dumb to appreciate one.
In Gravity, though, special effects blend seamlessly with the story and the characters. The special effects allow you to feel as though you are sharing Sandra Bullock’s harrowing ordeal and experience with her the depths of her loneliness. And for the height-averse like me, the movie instills a fervent desire never, ever, to leave one’s own beloved stratosphere.
What’s more, though, I think the special effects are the story. More than plot or character, the movie communicates the beauty of the earth, the grandeur of the universe, the fragility and preciousness of human life.
For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded. What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? (Ps. 8:4-5)
I’m no philosopher, but I’m quite sure that’s good art.