When Gravity was first released, I missed seeing the film. A minister friend recommended it to me recently, so I was pleased when it was reissued to theaters after receiving ten Academy Award nominations. I am not sure what I expected and I am still not sure what genre applies to Gravity. Rather than science fiction, Gravity is more science reality with a moral center. It is an action film about people rather than hardware (although a lot of space hardware is destroyed in the course of the film).
The film presents a strong argument for the old “there are no atheists in foxholes” argument. Even those with scant religious background find themselves seeking divine support when things get tough. When NASA mission specialist Ryan Stone finds herself in an impossible situation, she seeks divine intervention.
Although not blatant, there is a religious undercurrent throughout the film. There are references to at least three major world religions—Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism-- while the constant presence of planet Earth in the background reminds us of the richness of God’s creation.
As Stone, actress Sandra Bullock gives an often subtle performance that communicates vulnerability and fear as well as the determination of the common person who finds herself in an uncommon circumstance. Bullock is every [wo] man seeking to survive and believe in the face of death.
George Clooney plays veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski. On his final mission before retirement, Kowalski is the “right stuff” kind of guy who is fully alive only when he is in space. He follows protocol even when things seem hopeless, thus exhibiting faith, even if it is never connected to a divine being.
Watching Stone wrestle with her desire to believe in spite of her disbelief is a very moving experience and reminds one of the struggle of any secular person attempting to find meaning and purpose in life. How many people like this do we encounter every day without seeing their emptiness?
A significant theme of the film seems to be that although we are creatures of the earth, our Creator is with us no matter where we go. As the Psalmist wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10, NIV)
Gravity attests to the boundless reach and depth of God’s love.