Dr. Ryan Stone:
I’m going to die today…
I know, I know, everyone dies; not everyone knows the day.
At this exact moment in the story, after Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) utters the line, my heart broke in two.
Gravity came out this weekend to the tune of 53 million, easily beating its competition and surpassing industry estimates. I’ve heard nothing but praise – except for one YouTube reviewer that was WAYYYYY off the mark in her review. My opinion, of course.
And I had one personal friend say that it was boring.He’s no longer my friend.
So, if my calculations are correct, I would put that at 98% people I know, trust; rely on for their reviews (critics) coupled with word of mouth and my friend’s thoughts as well as my own personal experience in the theatre as proof positive the movie is a helluva a success and one that holds you by the proverbial balls the entire 90 minute run time.
I find the top quote to be the central theme of the movie (and here ya, go Spoiler-boys… I’m going to remain as vague as possible to not ruin the movie) But… (oh, another parenthesis, YOU SHOULD SEE THE MOVIE BEFORE READING THIS!!!) That’s how important it is, I put that warning in all CAPS.
Anywho, not to be too vague (and I am assuming most of you saw the trailers so you know some of what I will be touching on) when Sandra Bullock is inside one of the satellites, after the initial shocking turn of events that detaches her from her crew and space shuttle; Dr. Stone sheds her burdensome gear and stretches out, almost reveling in the pumped oxygen and contained space. After all, she just escaped the silence and uninhabitable void of space. She is now reborn in the small cockpit.
So what leads to this quote above? That’s a spoiler, boy. And it’s not worth it to give you a list of scenes and plot points. As I am picking quotes for every day blogs and commenting on them, most of them have been iconic, some more meaningful (like my Breaking Bad quote) and now, this quote… which I am not even sure if verbatim. Since the movie came out this past weekend, I am only going by memory – but this quote as I mentioned, and it’s deeper meaning to the overall story of Gravity, has been seared into my brain. I’ve heard people say they were crying during the movie at different moments… This was where I decided to cry.
I could go on and on about the technical brilliance of this film; how it is the best use of 3D and IMAX I have EVER seen (that’s saying a lot); that use of sound design and visual effects squeezes off your throat so you can’t breathe; how Stephen Price’s dynamic score is never noticeable and only used to punctuate different pauses or beats in action; how Alfonso Cuarón is an absolute genius; I could go into all of that… But this quote today is about how the action drove character and how, in this quiet moment in a cockpit, the action forced the character of Dr. Ryan Jones to face the reality of a horrible situation; a very real situation, and accept it.
For at the moment Sandra Bullock uttered these words, I cried. I accepted her fate with her and I braced for the worse. Again, no surprise, the movie used this quiet character moment to twist the screw even deeper. For another shocking action sequence happens and this newly evolved layer of character in Dr. Stone, reacts in kind. To me, this quote is the turning point for Bullock’s character and in that, a major turning point in the movie.
Screenwriters sometimes put a page number on it or a tag – Act I climax, Act II climax, etc. This to me, to use a screenplay term – is the MIDPOINT of the story. The moment where our main character has to shit or get off the pot.
The one YouTube reviewer who eviscerated this movie focused a rant on Sandra Bullock as the typical stupid heroine in danger cliche. This woman also pleaded with Hollywood to make better movies for women.
For in this rare moment of dialogue Dr. Ryan is having with herself, she shows that she is strong, capable, and through a genius twist in action by Cuarón, is forced to do more – to push herself and fight to survive.
This isn’t a deep study of character and motivation. This is a movie broken down to the most primal of levels – survival in the face of overwhelming odds. Man vs Nature and thankfully, we have a Woman vs Nature – the female character taking the place of the strong man and becoming a warrior in the face of absolute nothing – the endless darkness of space. Man’s greatest and most fearsome challenge.
And Dr. Stone rises to the challenge. Sandra Bullock deserves the Oscar this year. She is the hero of the movie (no need to distinguish the difference, heroine or otherwise) Dr. Ryan is a hero and one of the greatest heroic characters on film. Thanks to Alfonso Cuarón for creating a rich yet flawed character in Dr. Ryan Stone.
That is as vague as I will go… the quote above shows so much to me, is heartbreaking at the precise moment in the film it is designed for and elevates the character and audience to the next level of story.
Gravity is a masterpiece, this quote will never be iconic or repeatedly mentioned. For Gravity will be remembered for so many other things than the dialogue. It will be remembered as a perfect movie – in my opinion – where the sum of all parts unite to make magic.
Kudos, Alfonso Cuarón.
And to Sandra Bullock… You’re my hero.
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