'Gravity' a real force on DVD, Blu-ray

Sandra Bullock in

Sandra Bullock in "Gravity."

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:27 PM ET

Gravity has a shelf of Oscars, even if the Academy Award for best picture of 2013 went to a rival. The Oscars make the home debut of this space thriller even more relevant. Available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download, Gravity is not only a great film, it is a great spectacle to behold on your high-definition TV.

On Oscar night, Alfonso Cuaron’s film led with seven wins from its 10 nominations. That tally is four more than best picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, earned when it tied for second with three. Cuaron himself won as best director and doubled down personally when he shared the best film editing Oscar with Mark Sanger. The other wins also recognize the high technical achievement reached by Cuaron’s team. Emmanuel Lubezki won for cinematography and Steven Price won for original score, while the film was also cited for its visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing.

With good timing, the Blu-ray and special edition DVD extras showcase exactly why and how the Cuaron team got there. They did it through innovative, risk-taking and creative ingenuity. As is always the case with a Cuaron production, these bonus materials are generous, open and honest. Cuaron shares, never bragging. The mechanics and artistry of Gravity are revealed.

But first you need to hear Cuaron admit how wrong he was about making Gravity when he first co-wrote the script with his son, Jonas Cuaron. “A small movie, very simple” he recalls telling his cinematographer, Lubezki.

“And something relatively quick to make!” Cuaron grins. “Then it took four-and-a-half years.”

One of the fascinating bits of business, however, is that the concept for Gravity never changed, once that script had fallen into place. “The film that you see today is word for word, image for image, the script that was written by Alfonso and Jonas,” says Cuaron’s co-producer, David Heyman (from the Harry Potter franchise). “Everything we did thereafter was to bring to

life the vision that is so clearly laid out in that screenplay.”

The story really is simple: Two American astronauts are thrown into a crisis during a space walk to repair the Hubble Telescope. An orbiting cloud of space debris threatens their lives, every 90 minutes, and ultimately leaves them stranded. As the story unfolds, Bullock’s character explores the metaphor of rebirth.

In the extended, multi-part documentary found under Gravity Mission Control, viewers hear from the filmmakers, as well as co-stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The conceptual ideas behind Gravity are explored. So are the specifics of making a movie that takes place almost entirely in a weightless environment, because Cuaron & company had to invent new studio techniques and special effects to pull this off.

Another treat is Jonas Cuaron’s Greenland short, Aningaaq, which gives us the other side of that eerie conversation in the film between Bullock and an earthbound Inuit fisherman (played by Orto Ignatiussen). The Inuit is speaking on his portable radio while his dogs howl and Bullock responds in kind, unable to understand his Kalaallisut language. The short adds a

haunting counter-point.

For educational purposes, Ed Harris (whose voice is heard in Gravity as the man from mission control) narrates an excellent doc about the perils of man-made space debris, Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space.

In the end, Gravity is enhanced by revealing all. It is not just another special effects thriller. Clooney calls Gravity “an elegant piece” that has real substance. “This is a movie about trying to come to terms with your own death and life.”

 


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