Monday, March 21, 2016

Kristin Thompson on Gravity

We analyze Gravity (2013) as an action film in chapter 14. The focus is on the film's first act, up to the arrival of the debris field in which astronaut Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) gets caught. During this scene, we note that
music serves in the place of most of the sound effects. . . . Music is in essence performing the function of rendering [the] impossible sound [of the debris], relating how the experience feels rather than how it sounds. Underscoring feeling has, of course, long been a common function of film music, but [here the music mimics the] energy of the lethal objects much more than any subject’s inner emotional life. (HtM, second edition, 503)
For students who might want to explore the treatment of music and sound in Gravity further, we recommend a remarkable pair of blog posts by Kristin Thompson:  Gravity 1; Gravity 2. These may be called blog posts, but together they add up to an in-depth backstory and scholarly analysis of all the main aspects of the film, including sound and music.

Here are the headings:

Gravity 1: Two Characters Adrift in an Experimental Film
An experimental blockbuster
Who needs psychological depth in a crisis?
Challenges and goals
Motifs and causal motivation
Character motivation, fortuitous events, and religion
It all worked
Gravity 2: Thinking Inside the Box
Screaming on the set
Follow the bouncing axis
The LED Light Box
Previs as environment
Staging without a stage
Iris in
Puppeteers and eyes
The sounds of silence
The space between
The section on "sounds of silence" in Gravity 2 consists largely of quotes, but taken together they offer a good summary of the director and composer's goals and methods.

(Note from DN: Jim Buhler actually wrote the new sections on action and war films in chapters 10, 12, and 14.)