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"We Can Shoot It In One Year And We’re Out”: 5 Things Learned About Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist October 2, 2013 at 4:09PM

"We can shoot it in one year and we’re out,” director Alfonso Cuaron once said of his latest film, “Gravity” (our review) to his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki; And in Cuaron’s mind when the frequent collaborators first discussed the project in 2009, the intimate, performance-driven drama in space could theoretically fit that production window. But as filmmakers including David Fincher and James Cameron warned him of technology’s limits in bringing his vision to the screen—not to mention that Cuaron’s natural tendencies aimed as ambitious as possible—the full process from conception to Venice premiere ended up clocking in at nearly five years in total.
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Gravity, Bullock, Clooney

3. Sandra Bullock Sees “Gravity” As “Revolutionary” and an Ensemble Film
George Clooney’s name appears parallel to Bullock’s on the poster for “Gravity,” but make no mistake: for the majority of its runtime, we’re homed in on the actress’ face alone in the frame. It’s a challenging, emotional role for Bullock, and one that could be extremely intimidating to consider, but interestingly, the thought of her sole presence rarely entered her mind.

“You had the story, the elements that Jonas and Alfonso wrote, the technology—they were all constant characters, and I was just thinking of how to best execute what they thought up,” she said.” I never thought of it until I started doing press and everyone started freaking me out going, ‘How do you feel that this film rests on your shoulders?’ I still don't think about it, because I feel like I'm 3rd or 4th on the list of what they’ve created.”

"...all this stuff about orbits, trajectories, a lot of physics involved in traveling to space—we have to take our leaps in terms of fiction.”

Initially Bullock, a longtime Cuaron admirer, was hesitant to collaborate with the director because “you put them up on a pedestal.” But instead she found “a human being whose career was so bright,” and also a strong female role that she was relieved to find in a discouraging studio slate of projects.

“[Those kinds of roles] weren't being written, so I'd be turning one into a female character or developing it myself,” she said. “But in the last couple of years things have shifted, and the fact that Jonas and Alfonso wrote this specifically as a woman—it wasn't an afterthought, it was an integral part of the story—and the fact that a studio on blind faith would fund something as unknown as this is revolutionary. It made me realize I had to step up and be the best version of myself so that I could do whatever's asked of me.”

Gravity

4. Jonas Cuaron Contributed A Directorial Easter Egg To The Main Narrative
[SPOILER WARNING] One of the film’s most effective and out-of-nowhere scenes is a surreal, quiet exchange between Bullock and an Inuit, Aningaaq, on Earth calling the spacecraft. It serves to pull together the thematic strands that Cuaron discussed, connecting Bullock to a reason for making it out of the circumstances alive; we never catch a glimpse of the other side of the conversation, but as it turns out, Jonas covered his bases with a directorial side project.

“[He] went there and shot this absolutely beautiful piece of loneliness and emptiness on Earth where this man is calling from,” Bullock described. “It's so beautiful, and I get goosebumps thinking about it.”

The piece, entitled “Aningaaq”, was made into a 7-minute short film that premiered at Venice alongside “Gravity” itself, and the festival’s website describes it as following the Inuit fisherman’s conversation with “a dying astronaut who is stranded in space,” and “even though he doesn’t speak English and she doesn’t speak Greenlandic, they manage to have a conversation about dogs, babies, life and death.” Fear not though—during the panel, David Heyman confirmed the short film’s presence on the future Blu-ray release. [END SPOILERS]

Gravity, Bullock

5. Despite Its Terror-Inducing Scenes, “Gravity” Could Be An Inspiration For Kids
From the numerous instances of near-misses, collisions, and slow falls into the void of space, you could be forgiven for seeing “Gravity” as nothing but an exercise horrific stress and anxiety, especially for kids. But Coleman sees the matter differently; she thinks instead that a lack of general knowledge holds parents and their children back. “When [kids] see a big movie with a lot of action and things blowing up, does it make them never want to get in a car again?” she asked. “I think it all has to do with familiarity, and right now space to them is very unknown and very scary. I’m hoping this movie will make space more familiar to folks, and show the fact that it's just normal that a lot of people are up there.”

For the meantime, the United States’ involvement in space is extremely muted, with the Space Shuttle retired and NASA’s future in question, but Coleman says most everyone was aware of the situation well before now. “It would be nicer if we were launching from the US, but we have a lot of competing economic concerns; a dozen years ago, every single person working at NASA could tell you that on this day we would have no Space Shuttle and no way to launch from American soil.” That doesn’t mean the entire enterprise is doomed, however; she actually thinks the space program is in a very impressive state. “Right now it'd be nice if we had a new vehicle but it is coming. [Orion’s] test flights start in 2014—that is soon. So when we look back at this time with a longer lens, it'll just be a bump.”

“Gravity” hits theatres in 2D and IMAX 3D on October 4th.

This article is related to: Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, Sandra Bullock


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