Astrology: Film: ‘Gravity’ (2013)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

In Alfonso Cuarón’s thriller Gravity, the title is a loaded word. In outer space, you’re free of that force of attraction between masses, that sense of grounding represented by Saturn. And yet in the case of NASA medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), maybe weightlessness is its own type of Saturnine confinement.

With only half a year’s on-job astronaut training, Stone is part of a mission headed by Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran space guy full of bon mots and reassurances. At least that’s the case until a wicked hailstorm of debris wreaks havoc on the team who collectively are repairing a piece of equipment. Suddenly everything precious – oxygen, transport and a vessel for reentry –  needs to be scavenged, rationed, and replaced. And the quiet which once consoled Stone becomes, in the absence of communication from Houston, an obstacle to Saturnine survival.

Gravity is less about narrative and more about Stone’s meditation on whether her current state of being, singularized by weightlessness, is nothing more than an escape from the earth below, which is hardly ever out of frame. The phrase, “Let go!” becomes a something of a mantra. And, when Stone’s not in free fall or in her skivvies, she’s tethered, helmeted and enclosed by protective gear. It’s as though Cuarón wants to make the case that no matter how far away you get from your so-called real life, you can fall prey to carrying your jail cell with you.

Gravity is a generous offering to audiences to surrender to the (ideally) IMAX experience of floating through an indescribable great beyond, which most viewers will never get the chance to do for real. For Kowalski, the magic’s about watching the sun’s lighting up the Ganges. For Stone, the revelation is in her own reflection. Yes, silence can be golden.

Astrology Film Review: ♄ (Saturn)

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