“Gravity”: Ryan Stone’s Daughter

In “Gravity” . . .

Spoiler alert.

. . . Ryan Stone says she had a four-year-old daughter who died suddenly one day for no good reason. Just from falling. This becomes a recurring element of the film. She’ll speak of the daughter as her angel, and ask dead George Clooney’s wise ghost to give the girl’s spirit a hug.

Manipulative, right? Contrived?

No. It’s called storytelling. Duh. “Gravity” is brilliant and amazing.

Remember the movie “127 Hours”? That was about a real guy who fell down a canyon and had his armed pinned by a boulder. He cuts the arm off with a dull pocket knife at the end. He decides he has to live no matter what, and the movie shows us pieces of his life—regrets and joys, mostly—to demonstrate why survival matters.

“Gravity” is similar, but better. “127 Hours” was cool, but it’s insanely busy, with tons of fast editing and obvious camera tricks like getting us inside the bottle of piss as he drinks it. “Gravity” is in space, and that’s flashy, but it’s a much smoother ride.

When she can hear the dog and the baby on the radio, Ryan Stone decides it’s OK for her to die. The death of her daughter definitely adds incentive to accept death’s peaceful bear hug. It would make more sense for this woman to want to die than practically anyone else.

Thus the epic triumph of surviving. Click here for an “analysis” of the movie’s spiritual values by Religion News Service. The article asks to whom Stone is speaking when she says “Thank you” into the beach at the end:

And that takes us to the “nones,” the religiously unaffiliated who make up one in five Americans these days. If they’d all sign up on a list, only the Catholic Church could claim more members in the U.S. The whole point of being unaffiliated, of course, is that they don’t want to sign on to any constraints. When asked to identify their faith on a list, they’ll choose “none of the above.”

That’s right. Absence of religion in a movie about why life is great makes perfect sense. It’s one of  many reasons “Gravity” works so well.

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