Gravity

Director:  Alfonso Cuarón, Main Cast: Sandra BullockGeorge ClooneyEd Harris;

The first thing that come to mind after seeing this film is: visually stunning! One of the reasons why cinema was invented. The second is: using 3D in a movie makes sense for a change and it doesn’t provoke kinetosis (yay!). The third is: NASA should hire Ed Harris as the official voice of mission control in Houston (since “Apollo 13“, he is the most reassuring voice in dire situations). The plot is pretty simple: something terrible and unpredictable (?!?, I’ll get back to this later) happens during a routine maintenance mission of the Space Shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope and leaves our heroine (Sandra Bullock) stranded without contact with Earth in an environment rather hostile to life. Ok writers, I get that you needed to find a way for this man …well… woman versus nature scenario to unleash the special and visual effects departments, and I am almost willing to forgive you most of the scientific blunders but… someone has to defend the Russians and the aerospace engineers / astrophysicists of any nation. Unlike the United States and  China, Russia has never destroyed one of their decommissioned  satellites with a missile and their satellites are at an higher altitude than the Hubble. What happens in the film is a worst case scenario well known to space scientists called Kessler Syndrome, predicted by Don Kessler in a paper he  published in 1978 (!). The problem of debris in space is well monitored by all space agencies and there are several on-going projects to tackle it (check out what the Swiss are planning: Space Clean-Up). It’s also  important to note that the Hubble and the International Space Station are on orbits with different altitude and inclination, not exactly possible to be both hit by the same bunch of debris. Furthermore, all communication satellites are on geosynchronous orbits, 35000 km higher than the Hubble, so Sandra’s character should have had Ed’s warm, comforting voice in her ear for all the duration of the movie. Lastly, re-entering Earth’s atmosphere is a very tricky business : if the angle is too shallow you bounce back into space, too steep you burn to a crisp! Anyway, don’t mind too much my rant about scientific mistakes, just enjoy the view, Earth has never looked so beautiful! —8/10

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2 Comments

Filed under Seen at the cinema

2 responses to “Gravity

  1. I agree it’s a good movie and yes, finally a 3D that does add something to the story! The views are especially beautiful. The scene of the drop of tears floating toward the public is very moving.
    I don’t have any knowledge to be able to spot and criticise any scientific carelessness, but I have a minor remark: Sandra Bullock’s character (Ryan) unlucky as she is – debris, oxygen, fuel etc. – she still is very lucky as she personally survives a last debris hit where debris and smashed parts of an exploded space shuttle fly all around her…

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