Fanatic Cinematic: Everyone dies; don’t be so sad about it!

Movie columnist Alex Leininger on the new Clooney/Bullock flick

Imagine that you’re hurdling through space at immeasurable speeds, completely unattached to any sort of tether or spacecraft. Space is a gorgeous sight, but in this case, you have a few other things in mind.

You might be thinking, “Well darn, living probably isn’t an option anymore.” You’re probably also a little peeved that your oxygen supply is depleting faster than Usain Bolt can run, and at how rude that asteroid was when it decided to crush your spacecraft into an interstellar firework show.

Houston both copies and understands. But we also don’t want you to spend your entire demise screaming and thinking negative thoughts. Don’t be a Debbie Downer.

Instead, we want you to think about life in all its endless beauties. Before you make the transition from a billion feet over to six feet under, we want you to think about your time on Earth, and about all of the things that made that time worthwhile.

When I die, I’m going to miss those serene, early morning walks, and the smell of firewood in the depths of winter. I’m going to miss my wonderful family and friends, and the aching feeling you get as you laugh way too hard at a joke. I’m going to miss jumping on trampolines and jumping in piles of newly fallen leaves.

There’s a lot to appreciate down here on Earth. It’s a shame that it often takes near-death experiences to see all of these things for what they’re worth.

Mind you, there’s a reason for my sudden burst of deep teenage philosophy. In “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón’s new project, Sandra Bullock does plenty of soul-searching herself, and if America’s sweetheart does something, you best follow suit.

In the film’s 90-minute span, Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, experiences this column’s aforementioned situation firsthand. A confident veteran, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) accompanies her on the mission, and he is her only tangible tether to safety and sanity. As Stone’s death approaches faster by the minute, she not only faces physical obstacles, but also challenges to her own mental stability.

“Gravity” is an absolutely stunning cinematic adventure, both visually and philosophically. In the same scene, the film can transition from perfect tranquility to a cacophony of debris and devastation.

It’s not what you see, however, but rather what you feel that makes this fall blockbuster so spectacular.

Stone’s challenges aren’t truly understood until we understand the character’s mind, and what the film does so well is parallel her physical goal of returning to Earth with her need for psychological security. What we don’t yet know, as we first watch Stone spinning uncontrollably through the stars, is the fact that her young daughter died in a playground accident. After Stone later reveals her troubled past, we can wholeheartedly empathize with her problems staying motivated.

Death, symbolized literally by the members of the crew that died in the crash, and metaphorically by Stone’s daughter, is the most powerful motivator there is.

What is it about death that we hate so much? I mean, when you’re dead, you don’t have any responsibilities! When you’re dead, nobody can tell you that your outfit makes it look like you “rolled out of bed into a dumpster.” When you’re dead, all your worries disappear into oblivion.

Of course, when you’re dead, you get separated from your family and friends. When you’re dead, you venture into an unknown territory, and something about the unknown terrifies us humans senseless. Religious beliefs aside, we have no way of knowing for sure where we go after we die. Death, as horrible and cruel as it is, is life’s biggest mystery, and there’s a certain beauty in that.

Wow, super creative. “Live like you’re dying, make the most out of your life!” I know that it’s a trite concept, but I urge you to build a bridge and get over it. Life and death are beautiful things!

Your life might not really matter all that much once you’re dead, but it really matters while it’s happening.

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