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Was “Gravity” a glimpse of future cinema? And is that good, or bad?

My first impression upon viewing Alfonso’s Cuarón “Gravity” was of dislike.

I immediately identified it as one of those “one-platform” films (Think Avatar), only enjoyed with 3D glasses on an IMAX movie theater with Dolby 7.1 sound. Dangerous sings of a film hiding its lack of artistry through technical achievements. I dismissed it as a film that steered movies more towards a sensory experience that was closer to a Universal Studios attraction than to filmmaking itself.

As a close follower of Cuaron’s work (I really liked Children of Men) I was bitterly disappointed. Surely the media hype surrounding the film’s groundbreaking achievements coupled with the ever-presence of Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Tarkovki’s “Solaris” helped to further deepen the already dark shadow of disappointment the film had carved by way of its own deficiencies that ultimately lead me to categorize Cuarón’s film as one with a single (not at all uncommon) goal: Moneymaking through visual amazement. But maybe I was wrong.

Upon a recent re-viewing of the film (On a TV screen, at home) my thesis about it being a sensory based “one-platform” movie had not changed. But what had changed, was my perception of its goal. Maybe Cuarón was actually trying to attemptsomething different. Maybehe was really trying to build a new road towards the conception of meaning in films. A road –it seems-we are not yet capable of building.

-Visual metaphors over rhetorical dialect- Seemed to be Alfonso’s Cuarón goal when making Gravity. But visual metaphors are nothing new to filmmaking. Examples of it can be found through all of film history and in the work of countless directors. What could Cuarón possibly do differently? He approached it in an externally subjective way.

What if meaning can be evoked through “direct” experience in film? It certainly works for life. Dreams and hallucinations are often portrayed in film as a way of showing what a character is thinking and feeling. We often see –from and objective point of view- a character crying after losing a loved one. We see someone carrying a candle through a pool as a metaphor of the hardships of life. Can film do without conscious reasoning? Can film do without metaphors? Can film do without empathy? Can film provide a sensory experience powerful enough as to generate an intellectual response within the audience? Can film slide away from its observational roots? Can film as a more participatory art form change someone’s life? And if it can? Do we still call it film? Is “Gravity” a glimpse of a sort of scripted virtual reality? Can we be the man carrying the candel? Well, not currently. And “Gravity” surely couldn’t. The movie-going experience is getting increasingly personal, and looking at our Oculus Rift, Google Glass present, it’s hard for me not to envision a film future, vastly influenced by technology, for better or worse.

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