Friday, October 11, 2013


We went to see Gravity last night and I wanted to just get down a couple of things that struck me about the film's symbolism. For me, it was definitely a movie where sight took centre stage, which sounds silly because it's a movie and you're looking at it, but if you know what I mean, you know what I mean.


Gravity is littered with rebirth imagery. This extends from the repetition of being tethered/untethered and the obvious umbilical symbolism this brings to mind. Outer space acts as a womb, which Sandra Bullock's character, Ryan, as much as she thinks she wants to leave, actually wants to remain in.

The tagline of the film "Don't Let Go" is anachronistic, because in order for Ryan to be born again, she has to let go.

Did I say there was a lot of birth/rebirth imagery in the film?

The rebirth theme comes across in obvious and not so obvious ways. Most obviously is Ryan's rebirth and the fact that she had to go all the way into outer space, which is hostile to human life, in order to regain her life.

Mental note: rebirth is a shitter, but very much worth it.

That the environment of space is hostile to human life is present practically throughout the film. It may be the driving factor of the entire movie, because certainly, without this threat, Ryan's spiritual death would arguably not be confronted.

The final scene of the film again reinforces the rebirth theme, with Ryan coming out of the water after escaping the escape pod. It's also obviously Darwinian. She crawls out of the water, first on her stomach (fish), her fingers grabbing in the mud like pseudo-flippers. Then she's on all fours, before rising unsteadily onto her legs, her posture ape-like for a moment before she stands up, erect, and unsteadily begins to walk.

Gravity is most obviously a film about individual survival, rebirth, and finding meaning in a world that is ostensibly extremely hostile. Yet I think it also reflects, on a bigger scale, the individual's social anxieties concerning our everyday lives - a lack of meaning and spiritual death. Yet the film's most powerful message may be that yes, we do live in a hostile world, but that it is through our most painful experiences that we can once again regain meaning in our lives.