Jan 27, 2020 in Analysis


Gravity is an award winning science fiction thriller released in 2013. The movie presents Stone who is a medical engineer on her first space mission who is under the command of astronaut Kowalski in his final flight waiting retirement. However, during one of the routine walks in space they are notified by the Houston Space control that a Russian Satellite has exploded in space. Before the explorers could do anything, the exploded debris hurls towards the station and the shuttle damaging it to an extent it could not be repaired. The station and the shuttle is wrecked together with the crew leaving only the two off-board stranded deep in space with no links to the Earth and no glimpse hopes of being rescued. The two are left in a dangerous position as Stone becomes totally disconnected with her oxygen source and Kowalski had to retrieve her as soon as possible. They faced the challenges of connecting to another satellite or any space equipment with the ability to reach earth and coping with close to zero gravity in space. Throughout the time, they were completely isolated with the dilemma of making ultimate decisions in regards to their own mortality and what may be good for each other.

Apollo 13 is a Hollywood drama that relates to the true events of the ill-fated Apollo 13 space mission to the moon during the space race era. Three astronauts Lovell, Swigert and Haise were slated to lead the Apollo 14 but shifted to Apollo 13 which never reached its destination. The film is based on what was expected to be the third moon landing mission and illustrates the trials and tribulations of the families, mission controls officers and the crew in Apollo 13 after the fatal accident that crippled the entire spacecraft. The film depicts how the astronauts suffered after an on-bound explosion that made them deprived of oxygen supply and electric power forcing the NASA space controllers to terminate the moon landing mission and turning it into a struggle to safely get the three crew members home. The director goes into great lengths to increase the accuracy of the movie by seeking the NASA’s permission to film the scenes aboard the almost zero gravity aircraft to depict the state of weightlessness the astronauts experienced.

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Depiction of Gravity in the Two Movies

Gravity is a type of force that attracts terrestrial bodies or masses in the universe towards the core of the earth or any other physical body that has mass. In natural physics, gravity is the natural force that makes things to fall on the ground or towards the center of the earth. Gravity acts on all objects no matter the size from atomic particles to mega clusters of galaxies and on all distances. For any particle or object with no-zero mass, the gravitational force tends to attract them towards one another. It is assumed that there is no gravitational pull in the space or on the surface of the earth and this makes it hard for space explorers to perform normal activities like in the earth surface.

Watching Gravity one cannot help but see gravitational force described as the developmental theme that resonates around the film. Among the most luminous film that lingers in the mind of a viewer even after the movie ends is the scene where Ryan Stone is nestled in the safety of a spacecraft after surviving the explosion. She understands quite well that the struggle is not over in the suspended and weightless state. As she retracts her limbs from the resting position, the image of a fetus in utero appears and this symbolizes that Stone is in a helpless situation just like a fetus in the womb.

After the crash of their spacecraft, there is a rebirth metaphor where Stone gets into a curls and airlocks in the fetal position as the parachute chord floats her. Despite the movie being set in outer space, it draws the motif of common survival stories in a shipwreck and the psychological changes and resilience required after the catastrophe. The film director uses Stone to demonstrate the importance of persistence, clarity of mind, training and improvisation of available resources in times of need. In this movie, gravity is projected as an overwhelming challenge in the face of isolation in space. In addition to increasing the suspense it sparks the feeling of mortal consequences related to the loss of balance and relentless Murphy law

In Apollo 13, there are various scenes of simulated action in zero gravity illustrating a situation that depicts weightlessness in outer space. The actors were able to accurately shoot in space instead of the anticipated pain under uncomfortable harness. For the actors to effectively manage to shoot under zero gravity illustrates the difference between the real world and the simulated environment illustrated in the movie. The astronauts were faced with the challenge of possibly becoming marooned in the space after their oxygen supply run out and chances of being poisoned with accumulated carbon monoxide. If someone was able to return to the earth atmosphere, they precisely had to enter at right angle to counter gravitational resistance. If the entry was too steep, the object would be incinerated and skip off the top atmosphere like communication satellites and fly off in the space forever. In terms of realism, none of the theme is closely presented than the staggering facts that the film was shot aboard a NASA airplane under zero gravity on a steep parabolic orbit. The objective of the movie was to ensure that the astronauts are free from death. Thus, the main challenge was to keep them alive in absence of gravity and oxygen till the return to earth’s surface. And the viewer’s begin to realize the difficulty of the task of returning the crew back to earth.

Back on earth, Lovell’s wife wait impatiently and fearfully narrates to her son how his father will have to turn back before he even reach the moon’s surface since the spaceship he was in broke down. Lovell’s wife shows how ignorant the people on the ground were as they thought that anyone up there just needed to stop the engine and the spacecraft would just return with gravitational pull. The movie tries to illustrate the technical details and astronomical understanding required in the effort to save a stranded spacecraft with live crew. According to the plan in the Apollo 13 movie was meant to illustrate the extraordinary things that happen in space and not just the heroic cliché of bravery and resourcefulness.

Similarities and Differences Between the Two Movies in Presenting the Theme of Gravity

There are some similarities in these two movies in the way the theme of gravity is expressed. First, the two films are shot in space with several crew members inside while the spacecraft explodes. The astronauts are left at the mercy of nature of gravity to reconnect back to earth. Both movies illustrate gravity or lack of it as a major impediment to space exploration because calamities unfold with no one to witness or provide rescue to the survivors. The impact the scenes in the two movies is heightened by the alternation of objective and subjective perspectives such as the warmth of the illuminated earth to the dark deep and cold space. It is also increased by the predictability of a field of deadly debris and the quietness of the vacuum space. The film directors use long continuous shots in the movies to drive the viewers into action as well as contrast the claustrophobic shots of floating astronauts in capsules and space suits. Some commentators have noted that the tension between the gravity technologies in the movies creates disconnect that best describes how they may fail to save humanity without religious symbolism.

The main difference between the two movies is that in ‘Gravity’, the events turn once the spacecraft has completed landed into the moon and the astronauts were walking in the surface of the moon while in Apollo 13, the spacecraft was en route to the moon. The main difference was in the rescue mission and the strategies adopted to return the crew back to the earth. Although there are various errors in presenting the theme of gravity both movies shows the difficulties expected in shooting the film.


In spite of the two movies being shot at different times, the theme of gravity is illustrated in almost a similar way to show the difficulties. The reality beside the main point of focus in the films is the scientific inaccuracies in Gravity since the film is quite gripping and jaw dropping that it have a fairer disposition for a viewer to pay attention too much. This is because Gravity is represents a space disaster and survival techniques which never took place in real life. Apollo 13 movie has hewed close in history as they were based on real life events that happened some times in the past.


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