You know, I’ve always really liked Alfonso Cuarón. Even his older films, like, A Little Princess, and his updating of the classic Dickens’ novel Great Expectations, are really well crafted films(Actually, I watched A Little Princess recently, and it holds up really well. I was kind of surprised that I was engaged as I was. Considering the subject matter.). He has a really great handle on the art of “visual” story telling, and is smart enough to let the camera work do a lot of the heavy lifting, especially when it comes to universe building.
This is especially true in his film Children of Men(A personal favorite of mine.). Too often in movies, especially high concept/sci-fi films, do film makers rely on character exposition to let us know what’s going on in the universe, and how that universe came into being. The way that Children of Men accomplishes this is really simple, yet completely effective. In the films first few minutes, Clive Owen literally just walks around the universe. He walks down the street, showing the militarization of the police, and the down trodden populace. He goes into a cafe and gets in line for coffee, where a short news segment is playing, giving us context, and then a terrorist bombing happens, letting us know how volatile the social climate is. All of this happens in the first five to ten minutes, and gives you everything you need to know, allowing the character drama to play out without any heavy exposition. Smart and economical film making.
I first heard about Gravity a long time ago. It was originally supposed to star Robert Downey Jr., and Angelina Jolie, but because of scheduling conflicts, or something, they both dropped out, and delayed the production. It was like torture! Well, finally some footage was released. A short, but good teaser trailer. It didn’t give anything away, but set the tone really well. Some say that the fact that they show Sandra Bullock’s character being jettisoned into space is a spoiler, but honestly, they’re idiots. It’s all set up, and an intriguing one to boot. You just can’t please some people.
The new trailer follows suit with the first trailer; showing us the inciting incident, and nothing else. I assume what we’ve seen probably takes place within the first few minutes. It’s refreshing to be excited about a movie while knowing next to nothing about what is going to happen. The concept is terrifying enough. Adrift in space, with nothing more than a space suit separating you from the cold, head crushing vacuum of space. I’ll take that for a dollar… Well, probably more like fifteen dollars, but eh…
The trailer is just a single, impressive shot. Danger! Chaos! Panic! Exasperated Clooney! Terrified Bullock! Some other guy floating away! The way the camera moves is impressive for what it does and doesn’t show. It rapidly floats around Clooney, but still keeps at least one other character in frame the whole time; giving us a sense of the chaos at all times. It’s pulse pounding, panic inducing, and exciting! Also, the way the camera moves makes us feel like we’re kind of like a fourth crew member, struggling to see everything that’s happening, with the camera hurriedly trying to focus, and whipping back and forth. It makes us, the audience, feel as helpless to understand what is going on as the characters; not knowing what is more pertinent to pay attention to.
Another aspect I really love about the trailer is it’s economical use of sound. The only sounds we hear are the panicked breaths and helpless tones of the characters. It gives us a sense of reality, and intimacy. We feel like we’re one of them, helpless to do anything, all the while, debris is crashing into the satellite they’re working on. The presence of panicked breaths in the sound mix, also helps to reinforce the feeling of being a “fourth crew member.” It almost sounds like it’s our panicked breaths.
Anyways, I was really excited about this movie before I saw any footage, I was in it just because of Cuarón, and the footage I’ve seen just makes all that much more excited. I really hope they keep the promotions for this thin as vague as they have been. Trailers usually just give way too much away. I haven’t seen marketing this vague and enticing since the original trailer for Inception. I just want to see the menu, don’t order for me. It’s quickly becoming my most anticipated film of the year. October can’t come, or float(!), here fast enough!