Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"My eyes are brown."

Today's "Tales From the Script" is a bit on the heavy side.  We went to see "Gravity" over the weekend.  But before that, I wanted to plug the #5 minute fiction contest at Wendy's site again because, dot dot dot, I’m a finalist again.  Please click over and vote.  Last week I lost by a single vote.

The title today comes from "Gravity" - of course - but it makes me chuckle.  When my wife and I started dating we had known each other for years but had fallen out of touch.  I was a couple thousand miles away and we talked on the phone.  A lot.  During one conversation she asked if I knew what color her eyes were.  I had no idea but guessed.  That was 20 years ago.  I still get a little flak about my wrong guess every once in a while.  Thing is, I don't look at eyes.

Despite popular literature to the contrary, eyes are not the doorways to the soul.  You cannot discern someone's intent by looking into his eyes.  I notice when someone is missing an eye, or when they are shut while I'm teaching (or lecturing...) but rarely do I notice anything more.  My wife and children have brown eyes.  I know this for a very specific reason.  I couldn't tell you what color eyes anyone else I know has.  A face will tell you if someone is honest, but not eyes.  Hands will tell you what a person is going to do, but not eyes.  What eyes will do is trap you, like a deer in headlights or a hypnotist’s spell.

**Potential spoilers for “Gravity”**

"Gravity" was a very intense movie.  I liked it.  My wife did not.  I found the plotting and pace to be outstanding.  She thought everything was a bit contrived.  I was amazed by the cinematography and effects.  She said they made her nauseous and that's not why she goes to the movies.  I was amazed that a movie that long could be about one person and be interesting.  She thought that there was no development of the main character because so much of the struggle was her alone.

My wife made very good points and I suspect that you could find a lot of people on the net expressing the same view.  I strongly discourage you from seeing the film in Imax or 3d.  I felt like I was in freefall.  You don't just see someone in a space suit tumbling, you tumble inside the spacesuit.  I didn't get claustrophobic, but it was very disorienting at times.

The story was very linear and easy to follow.  There wasn't a lot of dialogue (if you don't count panting and grunting) but the story was told visually.  And there was action.  Lots of action.  Not the Ahnold (or Ben Affleck) sort of action, just bad things happening over and over - but not the same bad things.  Thus my comment about plotting and pacing.  The setbacks in this film were very well done.  They started small (motion sickness) and escalated from unbearably horrible to "are you kidding me?  What's next, the Earth exploding?"

Where my wife saw chance and dues ex machina, I saw character development and good storytelling.  To me, the close calls were quite believable given the premise of the film - the setup was our mumbo jumbo, everything that followed was reasonable.

Except maybe the ending.  That got predictable and was a bit of double mumbo jumbo - unless you subscribe to the alternate ending theory which, given the imagery (there is a spectacular 'womb' sequence) is quite probable.

Have you seen it yet?  What stood out to you?  Is this an amusement park gone wrong or a tale of survival worthy of Jack London?


  1. Things I will never be able to unsee: the final paragraph of the finalist who did a quick bit of Harry Potter fan fiction. I'm gonna go bleach my eyes now.

    1. That was a bit unexpected. **Spoiler Alert** One of the finalists at the 5 minute fiction contest will forever change how you view the relationship between Hagrid and Harry...