I think I'm still recovering from seeing Gravity. Space movies based on current technology don't usually do much for me. They tend to have a lot of silent static images, slow-moving people with faces hidden in spacesuit helmets, and staccato disembodied voices. They're often just dull. No aliens. No interstellar battles. No exotic planets. Just a dose of space reality.
Gravity has changed my mind about 'real space' movies. Big time. It's without a doubt the best movie I've seen this year and would have be in my all-time top ten. The tension is ramped up higher than in any other movie I can think of. It feels so real you literally struggle for oxygen.
Movement in zero gravity can be dance-like, calming, even poetic. In Gravity it reveals itself to be the most frightening thing in the universe. When Sandra Bullock is spinning and screaming and spinning and screaming, you desperately wish for some air resistance to act against the motion, anything to slow her down, anything to stop your head spiralling with her. Anything.
But you're in a vacuum. Newton's First Law is at work and if there is no other force stopping it, it goes on forever. (I know the Second Law of Thermodynamics means Sandra would eventually slow down, but she'd die waiting.) So she just keeps spinning and screaming and spinning and screaming.
There are some Cold Equations at work in this movie. The oxygen is going to run out. When it comes to orbits, what goes around really does come around. You can argue with the laws of physics, but you'll always lose.
And that turns out to be terrifying.
So how real is Gravity? It certainly feels breath-takingly hyper-real.
And don't just take my word for it. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon has given it high praise in his review in The Hollywood Reporter magazine. He says: 'I was so extravagantly impressed by the portrayal of the reality of zero gravity. Going through the space station was done just the way that I've seen people do it in reality.' He felt that the movie has come at a good time to stimulate people's interest in advancements in space.
Or totally freak them out!
I wonder how Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourist plans are going now?