Monday, December 02, 2013

Messages in the Film Gravity??

by Gary Berg-Cross

This weekend I saw the 3D action-thriller movie Gravity. It's filled with visual wonder but I think offers more than that. On the surface it proves an
out there feeling of the vastness of space topic punctuated with the claustrophobic feeling of  living in a space suit.  It is quite grounded in the science of space and the engineering of our efforts there, but I liked as well the implications and the perhaps some implied view of the fragility of the human condition. 

When my head stopped spinning from the  closely observed and etchingly realistic experiences of spinning in space I groked the meaning of the title for the first time. It's Gravity and not Zero Gravity.
Part of the message seemed to me that complex things (see posting on Collapse of Complex Societies) are too heavy and fall down in chain reaction type events – it’s the human condition in the strangeness of what modern tech can place us in. "I hate space" is the simple line as our heroine tries to cope with a spiraling series of oxygen deficits and hasty repairs and systems that break down in chain reaction.

In the movie our space constructs are destroyed by our own debris and it’s a bumpy ride being tethered together and the direction of things is down.  There is some parallel to the film 2001 in some scenes such as getting into a space station while in a space suit, but the neatest relations is a connection to evolution. Indeed we are treated to both evolution and something like a reverse evolution in that we start in the air and fall to ground.  Well actually we fall to the sea and have to emerge onto land again as did our ancestors.  

If the message of 2001 is about transcendence and emergence, this movie has something in the opposite direction. Maybe we need something simpler we can understand (Look the dials are in Chinese so we need our wits and “eenie meenie mo"  chances to survive.) 

But our time is ticking by till the next Meltdown, I mean space-debris shower happens.

 'You have to sip, not gulp,' says the George Clooney character, as you realize you're holding your own breath.'  

Yep, we are all holding are breath watching this movie, but maybe as a passenger of our complex times too.

It's a mix of  c
omplexity, unintended consequences and natural forces like gravity that bring things crashing to earth.  Time perhaps for us to sip and not gulp on the topic of the challenge of modern complexity and multiple levels - in orbit and down on earth.

1 comment:

Explicit Atheist said...

Running a fact checker against the story of this movie will reveal a lot of fictions. The overall story is dependent on multiple fictions, although it has some some factual content. I was not impressed with the movie, it followed a typical movie script with typical movie dialogue. As for the title of the movie, that makes a lot of sense to me. Gravity has a prominent role in the ending, and it is present throughout in the orbiting of everything moving around the earth.