Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Psychic View: Captured by 'Gravity'
By Marjorie Young
I recently saw ‘Gravity,’ the stunning new film by Mexican writer/director Alfonso Cuaron. It proved unforgettable, not only for the superb performances and visual effects, but even more so for its spiritual themes. Of course, the ‘message’ is in the eye of the beholder, just as ‘beauty’ is said to be.
Here, I’ll issue a SPOILER ALERT! Anyone planning to see the film may not want to read further.
The story of ‘Gravity’ is starkly simple. Two astronauts, a novice ‘Ryan’ (Sandra Bullock) and the gregarious veteran Matt (George Clooney) are repairing the Hubble Telescope, 400 miles above earth. They become stranded when unexpected debris destroys their craft. Cut off from communications, their space suits will soon run out of oxygen. Their only hope is to reach the damaged Space Station, or, even more implausibly, find their way to a Chinese orbiting outpost some distance away.
This struggle for survival merges into a moving parable of rebirth. The unflappable Matt comes to Ryan’s aid, but must later sacrifice his life for hers. Alone, Ryan battles on against impossible odds, while haunted by the death of her young daughter several years before.
Miraculously, Ryan gains access to the station, at last able to shed her cumbersome gear. Emerging from it, she floats into a fetal position, resembling, for all the world, an infant preparing to be born – for she’s truly gained a new chance at life.
But life is hardly without hazard. No sooner does she find shelter when a fire breaks out. Fleeing in a makeshift capsule to the Chinese outpost, she finds it damaged beyond repair. All hope is gone. Though fearful of death, she turns off the oxygen to hasten its arrival. Then, something marvelous occurs; her fellow astronaut inexplicably reappears, forcing his way into the chamber. Matt, buoyant with his customary joie de vivre, reminds her of an outlandish, chancy tactic that might just permit her to survive.
With renewed hope, Ryan turns to thank her comrade, but he is nowhere to be seen. Comprehension dawns. This was a ‘visitation’ from Matt’s ‘spirit.’ The viewer, of course, is free to draw other conclusions; perhaps this was the hallucination of an oxygen-starved brain. Or ‘merely’ a dream? But Ryan is convinced. (Having had many opportunities to deliver ‘messages’ from those passed on, the entire scene was thrillingly familiar to me).
At once, Ryan’s fear falls away. She joyfully urges a vanished Matt to convey her love to her daughter. She will attempt the return to earth: her destiny will be sealed in the coming moments. But she at peace; prepared to accept with serenity her life or her death.
And survive she does. Crawling onto an unfamiliar shore, we see only her unclad legs struggling to stand. She falls, regains her footing, and stumbles forward; like a toddler’s first steps towards whatever destiny may hold in store. But she has learned to cherish life, in all its bitter sweetness; leaving us inspired and instructed by Ryan’s remarkable odyssey of body and spirit.
Marjorie is available for readings at the Ballard Sunday Market, her Ballard home, or by phone. Please contact her by email: email@example.com
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