The Atomic Writer has surfaced for a rare post about two movies currently gracing the big screen. Both are must sees on the big screen and after seeing them I can assure you you won’t be disappointed. I’ve been busy adapting a science fiction book series into a screenplay, or screenplays to be exact for a production company but more about this later.
Ender’s Game and Gravity are simultaneously in theater’s at this writing and I encourage all to go see them. If you love science fiction like I do, and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t, then these two cinematic spectacles are well worth the price of admission.
Both are set in space and deal with human survival on a visceral level. One very personal, in the case of Gravity, and the other on a more grander scale – the survival of the species when confronted by an alien enemy.
Gravity deals with survival in a technology gone wrong paradigm which leaves astronauts stranded in space. It’s a very simple story with an overriding theme that we can all understand – when you drop an apple it falls to the ground! Heck, we’ve known this for hundreds of years. Gravity plays such an integral role in the story it removes complexity that otherwise mars and cloaks most science fiction movies. Instead of trying to figure out an over-complicated plot, we are left with having to process raw human emotions and without knowing it are subjected to a powerful catharsis. It sneaks up on all of us in such an esoteric way that even people who claim to not get emotional, do get emotional. This my friends is what movie going is all about.
On paper, or rather in PDF format, the screenplay for Gravity would not garner a second look from most Hollywood executives. Contests would have rejected it as a too simple story with some decent action scenes but not much plot or characterization. What’s makes this story a success is the execution provided by director Alfonso Cuarón and his cinematopher Emmanuel Lubezki and how together they created a suspension of disbelief so powerful when viewed on the big screen one begins to feel the tension of actually being stranded in space. A place so hostile without air, without footing, without food or water. A place as alien as the surface of some distance exo-planet where life cannot be sustained.
Visually stunning shots of astronauts fighting for their survival against a backdrop of home sweet home, make this a must see movie.
Earth – so close yet so far away. Most of the shots are long sequences following Sandra Bullock as she flies from one life raft to the next in her quest of self preservation and at every step faces obstacles that make her question deep inside her motives for wanting to save herself.
Compare this with Ender’s Game and how Ender himself, even though a child, questions his motives for survival and saving himself. Ender knows no other world than one where an alien species has invaded and like the nuclear bomb scare of the cold war, grows up not knowing if everyday could be his last. It’s his duty to his sister Valentine, his mother and father, brother, and self, to be the best he can be and become a battle commander. Again we see a simple theme of loyalty and dedication to a common cause. The proverbial monkey wrench is thrown in and his nice and tidy world becomes clouded in doubt when he starts to question the motives of his superiors. Ender is a smart kid, too smart in many ways. He begins to have mysterious visions of the aliens but are they dreams or really the so called enemy getting inside his head? He begins to doubt the validity of the core principals that his training has provided. Are the aliens really aggressive? Are they just trying to survive but due to a lack of communication unable to articulate their intentions? Are we simply destroying them because they are different? Is our response an indication of how technologically immature we really are? Okay, let me write a sentence that’s not a question. We have to learn to communicate first before we fire the first shot. For an alien species to cross the vast cosmos and make it here in one piece, they must have conquered the basic primitive need to squash first and ask questions later. A response deeply seated in the reptilian brain we humans share with well yes you guessed, reptiles. If I’m not mistaken, I have never seen reptiles negotiate with other animals. We don’t see them receiving Noble prizes and we sure don’t see them writing long blog posts late on a Sunday night instead of watching the Walking Dead or Homeland. Yes, those are two shows I like to watch.
Well, its late and I need to get back to my screenplay. I have my first screenwriting assignment and need to be fastidious with it. I’ll update you later with it’s progress and when you can see it on the big screen. For now, Ender’s Game and Gravity can still be eyeballed on the canvas for at least the foreseeable future. I highly recommend it science fiction fans.
Remember, never stop looking up at the night sky and asking, what if…
The Atomic Writer