December 11, 2013
Clooney, Bullock launch Venice into orbit
Alfonso Cuarón’s space odyssey Gravity gets warm festival welcome
The Venice Film Festival got off to an explosive start yesterday with the première of 3D space movie Gravity, teaming George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts imperiled by a botched Russian missile shot.
“I hate space,” Bullock’s astronaut character Ryan Stone says midway through what essentially is a Clooney-Bullock two hander in which their shuttle is destroyed by an avalanche of space debris triggered by a Russian missile strike on a spy satellite gone horribly wrong. She does not learn to love space, but Stone, a scientist who has been grieving over the death of her four-year-old daughter, has a spiritual rebirth, thanks in part to the ebullient resilience of Clooney's country-music-loving Matt Kowalsky and to her discovering her own instinct to survive.
At the post-film news conference, Bullock and Clooney said the film, directed by Mexico’s Alfonso Cuarón, had been one of the most demanding in which they had ever appeared. “Physically and mentally it was the craziest, most bizarre, challenging thing. But you find what you’re made of,” Bullock said.
Much of the film was shot in a 2.7 by 2.7–metre box, inside of which the actors were suspended by cables, with their lower halves inside a contraption, while objects were hurled toward them, the actors said. For Bullock, the conditions created a sense of extreme isolation not unlike that felt by her character. “George and I were rarely together, but if I could hear his voice I would feel better. I was grateful for any human contact, even if it was just a breath,” she said.
Gravity is shot in 3-D, which gives depth to the character’s experience of having debris hurtle toward them or seeing pens, ping pong paddles or statuettes float by.
Bullock said she wanted to portray the character’s loss through physical perfection, and worked hard to get into top shape. “I wanted her to lose everything feminine or maternal about her. I wanted to get the body to be a machine that was effective for her brain,” Bullock said. She trained daily on the set and said carrying around her son also helps her to keep in shape. “I have a 18kg 3-year-old who still is a baby and insists on being carried,” Bullock said. Clooney’s regime was a bit lighter. “Sandy and I did a lot of Bikram yoga together,” Clooney cracked, adding,
“I just mostly drank my way into the job.”
— Herald with AP, Reuters