Gravity was nominated, and won, the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2014. After one look at the space inspired thriller you can see there are plenty of reasons why Gravity won and earned the award. Gravity’s cinematographer, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, worked closely with director Alfonso Cuaron and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber to create a film set almost entirely in zero gravity. The audience is not just seeing space, but they are taken along what seems to be the most realistic view of space the film has offered. Computer graphics and lights were used to help the viewers see a representational view of outer space.
They did this in order to make the audience feel like not only what they were seeing was real, but they wanted to make the viewers feel as if they were there as well. Having the audience feel as if they were there makes the film much more believable and realistic. Due to the amount of computer special effects shots and the recreation of the look of zero gravity space, Gravity took a long time to make. I believe this was because Lubezki and the cinematography team had a great challenge to overcome, which was the creation of Gravity’s setting.
The black hole and darkness of space, which is interesting to look at and eye-catching, has to also be entirely empty. For the film to work it was important that space was a never-ending view of black nothing. Fortunately, for the filmmakers and the audience, Gravity achieved this. This film is the most successful attempt at transferring a large audience from their seats straight into outer space. The film uses light to help make an uncanny but believable space setting atmosphere. Lighting was definitely a key factor in creating the look of space.
The movie showed us quick changing light as different and challenging forces move the characters around. The lighting in the film had to be representative to that of which we would seen in space. In space, light comes from the sun and bounces off everything. Creating a film which had to represent that was a difficult thing to do considering the fact that there was no way to actually film to movie in space. Visual effects supervisor Tim Webber and Emmanuel Lubezki solved this issue by creating something they called the Light Box.
The Light Box was used for the actors in the film to sit inside of it. They needed something that would give them the opportunity to reflect any light. The inside of the box had 196 panels and contained 4,096 LED light bulbs that could show whatever light or colors were needed and could be altered when required. They could also show any images onto the walls. The most important images they needed to show were of planet Earth, the International Space Station, and the stars. By showing the actors the perspective of what their character was seeing it became a helpful visual reference for them.
Even though its important function was so they could reflect the appropriate light needed. One of the clever ways the film amazingly interprets darkness is by using exposure and color. Almost all of the action that we see throughout the film is placed in front of the most beautiful background, Earth. In Gravity, Earth is a huge difference compared to the view we see which is the dark black void of space. Earth is a ball of bold blue, green, brown, and white colors filled with life. When we would get a glimpse or view of Earth, we would see those colors vibrantly shown.
The darkness we see surrounds the characters, which at times feels as though it is threatening to take over the entire frame. They show Earth a lot in the background to make it understood that it is out of reach for the stranded astronauts, this is essential to show the tension, mystery, and the thrill of the movie. The last scene of the film differed tremendously from the rest of the movie, taking place on Planet Earth. The Earth scene gave us a lively feel instead of the rest of the film which was all digitally created.
We are able to see something recognizable, realistic, and colorful to offset the fact that we had been watching an almost entirely dark movie. A deserted lake was chosen to represent the planet that Sandra Bullock’s character came back to, bringing out tones of brown and green to a movie that was basically black and white for the entire time. Representing her character’s completed journey back home to Earth, the ground is viewed for most of the scene. Long and complex shots were used in the film. These shots contained uninterrupted course, traveling through large times without a cut between them.
These changed the audience from viewers to participants in the scenes by living in the pulse of them. The shots were floating views where the actor, view, and the camera would spin and roll around one another freely. This gives the feeling of actual space performance. The opening of Gravity was a twelve to thirteen minute single shot in outer space that begins with a satellite repair mission going wrong and ends with Sandra Bullock falling into the black void we call space. They did this to help capture the environment in a three-dimensional place, giving the audience an idea of how all components n the film relate to each other.
In the film you have gotten dizzy in a thrilling yet fearful way with the view through the spinning camera. They take you around, over, under, between, in and out of tiny spaces within space itself. This helps to give you a feeling of weightlessness. It is used to make you feel as if you are experiencing exactly what the character is and you are seeing it as they are. One second your view is of the scene, then you are inside the helmet of Bullock’s character. Then you are out by the International Space Station hearing her only as far radio noise.
After that you are up close with George Clooney’s character and throughout all of that there hasn’t even been a cut in the scene. They designed equipment to allow them to move and spin the environment around Bullock to help give the impression that she is spinning. You can see the reflections in her eyes and from her helmet as the view is going from an objective shot where she is seen spinning and then instantly it becomes a subjective shot and you begin to see what she’s looking at all while spinning out of control with her.
It is captivating and gives the impression of reality and thrill. The creators of Gravity wanted to achieve the feeling of the camera being taken to outer space and they succeeded. The techniques that they used in creating the movie set up a beginning to how future films in space or foreign environments can look and make the audience feel. I agree completely with the film being awarded best cinematography. It caught my attention and took me on a unforgettable ride through space that felt extremely realistic.