1) The long takes are indeed incredible
Cuarón’s trademark, thanks largely, maybe exclusively, to Children of Men, has become the long take. The one sequence in that movie featuring an intense attack on a car transporting the main characters was one of the key reasons it attracted so much attention for its unique visual method and immersive feel—with all the action unfolding in front of us with no cuts interrupting the image, there’s a realism to it that is especially affecting. It’s a cinematic technique he keeps returning to, and Gravity uses it more than anything he’s done in the past.
The result is even more intense and incredible than a person who hasn’t seen it is likely to imagine. One of the central conceits of the film is to replicate the feeling of being in space, to transport the audience so that we feel as though we’re floating alongside Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. It’s true that there’s a certain element to the traditional long take where the action has to be captured in one perfect go-round, unlike this movie where computer animation allows more room for multiple takes. In fact, it may be more suitable to call this a single-shot sequence rather than single-take. The effect, though, remains. The interrupted fluidity of the camera and character action we watch is made simultaneously hyperrealistic and slightly surreal, which captures the feeling of outer space perfectly. It also makes the shock of its big action set pieces that much more intense. There’s no doubt that the unique cinematic experience of Gravity is largely due to this bold and profoundly effective stylistic choice by Cuarón.
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