What do film directors Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Agnès Varda, …
By now, Alfonso Cuarón has pretty much earned the crown of being one of the best, if not the best, technicians in modern cinema. His last three films—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and now Gravity—all demonstrate a playful and intelligent command of space, his camera always roving in, around, and out of locations whenever possible. Gravity raises the bar for technical prowess in mainstream filmmaking, and Cuarón doesn’t shy away from the challenge of a film set entirely in space. This is nothing short of a flawless technical exercise, a frequently intense and relentless theme-park ride of a movie. The real downside is that Cuarón could’ve made more than just a ride.
In 1902, the French screen pioneer Georges Melies made Le Voyage Dans La Lune, an interstellar breakthrough in special effects and fantastical imagination that beguiled and bewildered audiences. Since that film, the science-fiction genre has passed through evolutionary wormholes every decade or so, due to the pioneering cognition of the likes of Fritz Lang, Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, and, from a purely technological standpoint, James Cameron, where the very mechanics of cinematic representation and realization are docked with technical advances in optics, film stocks and lenses, or the crushing and retexturing of digital blizzards of zeroes and ones and post-production manipulation as the medium moves from physical celluloid to analog abduction.