Gravity: Not Just a Movie, An Immersive 3-D Experience

By Hutton Jackson

Few have had the chance to experience zero gravity and view the earth from outer space and many never will. However, Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity is probably the closest thing the average person can get to experiencing space.

Gravity was released in theaters on October 4, and has been out for a little less than a month. However, it has already broken the record for biggest opening weekend in October with $55.6 million from 3,575 theaters. That amount, made just in its opening weekend, is a little over half the $100 million budget it took to make the effects heavy film.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Since then the film has made $172 million and has been critically acclaimed by critics and audiences alike with a 96/100 score on Metacritic and a 97 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

However, the most impressive statistic is that in its opening weekend, 80 percent of tickets sold were for the 3-D showing of Gravity, compared to Avatar another 3-D acclaimed film and all time highest overall box-office, which totaled 71 percent in 3-D tickets during its opening weekend. The following week, 3-D ticket sales for Gravity jumped to 82 percent.

3-D is nothing new, appearing in nearly every blockbuster these days, and there is a negative backlash towards 3-D with audiences complaining about it being both overpriced as well as an “eye sore” or too “gimmicky”. Considering the public’s general feeling towards 3-D makes Gravity‘s 3-D success the more astonishing. Yet, Gravity was not converted to 3-D to simply make more money as it is so often done, but is used to create one of the most pioneering cinematic experiences in movie history.

Nothing in Gravity jumps out at you, rather the audience is instead immersed in the film. The 3-D combined with IMAX’s surround sound makes the world of Gravity all the more real. Yet, the 3-D simply adds to the already stunning cinematography of the film.

Another technique that went into the filming of Gravity was director Alfonso Cuarón’s use of continuous shots. Cuarón is known for these nonstop sequence shots that involve the camera moving around the actors and their environment rather than cutting from one shot to the next. The film actually opens up with a 17-minute shot that allows the audience to view the film from the perspective of the characters as well as get a sense of floating in space.  The audience also feels the change from calmness and serenity to panic and fear as disaster strikes astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) in the opening scene.

The CGI and special effects are so state of the art that one would think that Gravity was filmed in space. The effects are on par with Avatar, but the more plausible and reality based story of Gravity makes the experience overall more satisfying. While anyone watching “Avatar” may feel as they have been transported to the fictional planet of Pandora, some suspension of disbelief is still required. With Gravity, the audience starts out 372 miles above earth’s atmosphere and after five minutes into the film will forget they’re in a theater at all.

Gravity is a triumph in modern filmmaking and its effects and cinematography alone are reasons to see it. However, the thrilling story and solid performances by Bullock and Clooney also add to the already accomplished film.  In the end Gravity is a must see for any moviegoer and while the story and performances are enough to carry a 2-D showing, the most fulfilling way to see Gravity is in 3-D IMAX, the way it should be and always was intended to be seen.

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