Gravity is a 2013 British-American 3D science fiction thriller and space drama film. It was directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Cuarón, and stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts involved in the mid-orbit destruction of a space shuttle and their attempt to return to Earth.
Cuarón wrote the screenplay with his son Jonás and attempted to develop the film at Universal Studios. The rights were sold to Warner Bros., where the project eventually found traction. David Heyman, who previously worked with Cuarón on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, produced the film with him. Gravity was made in the UK, where British special effects company Framestore spent more than three years creating most of the film's visual effects, which comprise over 80 of its 91 minutes.
Gravity opened the 70th Venice International Film Festival in August 2013 and had its North American premiere three days later at the Telluride Film Festival. It was released to cinemas in the United States and Canada on October 4, 2013. The film was met with universal acclaim from critics and audiences; both groups praised Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography, Steven Price's musical score, Cuarón's direction, Bullock's performance and Framestore's visual effects. It has grossed more than US$715 million worldwide, making it the eighth highest-grossing film of 2013.
Gravity won seven awards at the 86th Academy Awards, the most for the ceremony, including Best Director for Cuarón, Best Cinematography for Lubezki, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score for Price. The film was also awarded six BAFTA Awards, including Outstanding British Film and Best Director, the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, and seven Critics Choice Awards.
The film is set during fictitious space shuttle mission STS-157. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first space shuttle mission aboard the space shuttle Explorer. She is accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who is commanding his final expedition. During a spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope, Mission Control in Houston warns the team about a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite, which has caused a chain reaction forming a cloud of debris in space. Mission Control orders that the mission be aborted and the shuttle begin re-entry immediately. Communication with Mission Control is lost shortly after.
High-speed debris strikes the Explorer and Hubble, and detaches Stone from the shuttle, leaving her tumbling through space. Kowalski, using a Manned Maneuvering Unit, soon recovers Stone and they make their way back to the Space Shuttle. They discover that it has suffered catastrophic damage and the crew is dead. They use the thruster pack to make their way to the International Space Station (ISS), which is in orbit only about 1,450 km (900 mi) away. Kowalski estimates they have 90 minutes before the debris field completes an orbit and threatens them again.
En route to the ISS, the two discuss Stone's home life and the death of her young daughter. Her daughter was playing tag and she slipped and hit her head on the concrete causing her early death. As they approach the substantially damaged but still operational ISS, they see its crew has evacuated in one of its two Soyuz modules. The parachute of the remaining Soyuz has deployed, rendering the capsule useless for returning to Earth. Kowalski suggests using it to travel to the nearby Chinese space station Tiangong, 100 km (60 mi) away and board one of its modules to return safely to Earth. Out of air and maneuvering power, the two try to grab onto the ISS as they fly by. Stone's leg gets entangled in Soyuz's parachute cords and she grabs a strap on Kowalski's suit. Despite Stone's protests, Kowalski detaches himself from the tether to save her from drifting away with him, and she is pulled back towards the ISS while Kowalski floats away.
Stone enters the ISS via an airlock. She cannot re-establish communication with Kowalski and concludes that she is the sole survivor. A fire breaks out, forcing her to hastily make her way to the Soyuz. As she maneuvers the capsule away from the ISS, the tangled parachute tethers prevent the Soyuz from separating from the station. She spacewalks to release the cables, succeeding just as the debris field completes its orbit and destroys the station. Stone aligns the Soyuz with Tiangong but discovers that its engine has no fuel. After a brief radio communication with a fisherman on Earth, Stone resigns herself to being stranded and shuts down the cabin's oxygen supply to commit suicide. As she begins to lose consciousness, Kowalski enters the capsule. Scolding her for giving up, he tells her to rig the Soyuz's landing rockets to propel the capsule toward Tiangong. Stone then realizes that Kowalski's reappearance is not real, but has nonetheless given her the strength of will to carry on. She restores the flow of oxygen and uses the landing rockets to navigate toward Tiangong, which is rapidly deorbiting.
Unable to dock the Soyuz with the station, Stone ejects herself via explosive decompression and uses a fire extinguisher as a makeshift thruster to travel to Tiangong. Stone enters the Shenzhou capsule just as Tiangong starts to break up on the upper edge of the atmosphere. Stone declares that she is ready to head back to Earth, dead or alive. After re-entering the atmosphere, Stone hears Mission Control, which is tracking the capsule, over the radio. The capsule lands in a lake, but dense smoke from an electrical fire inside the capsule forces Stone to evacuate immediately. She opens the capsule hatch, allowing water to enter and sink it, forcing Stone to swim ashore. She watches the remains of the Tiangong re-enter the atmosphere and takes her first shaky steps on land, in the full gravity of Earth.