A Dreamer Walking

Emmanuel Lubezki – Cinematographer – Gravity

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on March 2, 2014

Gravity #1

Whether you were put off by the less then par writing or didn’t really like the oversimplified plot, it is undeniable Gravity was one of the best looking movies to come out last year. Every frame is beautiful and even 3D haters needed to say the movie worked well in the questionable format. Gravity represents the continueation of the collabortation between Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuarón who have been working together since collage. Indeed, Gravity represents the third time Lubezki has been nominated for best cinematography for a Cuarón picture (the other two being A Little Princess (1995) and Children of Men (2006)).

After the critical and personal failure of their movie Great Expectations (1998) Cuarón and Lubezki chose to go with a new more gritty style of filmmaking for their next film, Y Tu Mamá También, and have stayed with that style ever since. The signature piece of this new style is the long shot. For this movie and Children of Men Lubezki and Cuarón have gone minutes at a time without any clear cuts. Cuarón has said he does this because he wants to have the audience inhabit the world and get lost in it. The cut has the tendency to release tension and distance the audience from the action of the movie. So with Gravity Cuarón chose to start the movie out with a twelve minute opening shot. In this shot we are sucked into Cuarón’s world and even at one time given the main character Ryan Stone’s point of view. These long shots were never meant to be showy. Lubezki said he didn’t want to do them in order for people to be impressed. In fact, if they were doing their job right nobody would know how long the shots were they would just be completely consumed in the story.

The shot you see above represents the key theme of Gravity, rebirth. In the movie Ryan is forced to learn how to let go of her past so she can embrace her future. This shot is made during the transition into the second part of the second act of the story and represents exactly where Ryan is at. She is in the process of being reborn. She has been forced to literally let go of her securities and take on the rest of her journey by herself. There is a lot of journey still to go and a lot of growth she needs to go through. I love every aspect of this shot. Lubezki and Cuarón center Ryan in the middle of the frame. She takes on the fetal position and you even have the tubes representing the umbilical cord. The ship represents the womb and you can see the outside world eliminating the heart of the frame and directing the eye to it’s center. The round door frames Ryan’s character and creates a sense of harmony. This shot allows for a the audience to have a short rest before we are thrown into the next part of the story.

Gravity is a truly explosive film made to be experienced in the theater. If you watch it on DVD or blu-ray I suggest you find as good of a viewing experience as possible. I also believe after six nominations this will be the movie that gives Lubezki his first Oscar for best cinematography.

4 Responses

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  1. Jesse Koepke said, on March 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    That shot was incredible. Her movement, the movement and framing of the camera was so good.

    • Jacob said, on March 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      So true Jesse. It really is hard to understand how much work went into pulling off the illusion of being in space. Alfonso said there were two big problems with making a movie in space. The first is obvious, there is no gravity. However, the other one was there being no horizon line. I think filmmakers often use the horizon line to anchor their shot. The filmmakers in Gravity didn’t have that luxury.

      • Jesse Koepke said, on March 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

        Huh, that’s interesting point. I never thought about a horizon line.

      • Jacob said, on March 13, 2014 at 9:03 am

        Well just look up John Ford’s advice to Steven Spielberg and you will know how important some filmmakers consider the horizon line.


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