In this edition of “Oh hey, I noticed something Catholic about this movie-that-isn’t-intended-to-be-Catholic”, I want to talk about Gravity.
I had the opportunity to go watch Gravity the other day, and I liked it! I was intrigued by the trailer with Sandra Bullock’s and George Clooney’s characters seemingly drifting in space hopelessly trying to grab a hold of something. Something about space made my aerospace engineering senses tingle. Had to go see it!
It was kind of a frightening movie only because I couldn’t help but think about what I would do in the same situations that those characters faced in the movie. But, without giving anything totally away, I appreciated the Catholic themes present throughout the movie.
This is important to know–you can’t hear sounds in space. Or rather, you need atmosphere (or not a vacuum) in order to have a small change in pressure that we can refer to as “sound.”
But, as important as it is to know that for the beginning of the movie, it’s also important as the movie progresses.
Sometimes silence is the only way we can truly be face-to-face with our interior. By interior I mean our deepest thoughts, desires, emotions, etc. In her loneliness in the silence of space, it becomes conducive for Sandra Bullock’s character to pray.
In Catholic understanding, we know that God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. It is easier to listen to His stirring of our hearts in silence rather than the noise of everything we’re dealing with.
Immediately, it is beautiful to admire the cinematography of the earth below from the characters’ perspective. I can’t even fathom how amazingly beautiful the earth must look in real life from above, but I’m guessing this movie gives a close approximation.
Even the characters acknowledge how great and beautiful are the various views of the earth as they orbit around it.
Beauty is one the the three transcendentals (the other two being Truth and Goodness). It gives us a sense of awe and wonder of something infinite and divine that is greater than us. And seeing the earth from the heavens (by that I mean … really, really, really, really high in the sky) really allows one to see the beauty of God’s creation on planet Earth.
One of the things about being Christian is that we pray for each other. The Catholic faith even teaches that the saints pray for us in heaven.
Like I indicate above, Sandra Bullock’s character prays in the movie. She asks for help on how to pray and wonders about if there would be anyone to pray for her. Just that monologue alone exemplifies her prayer for help as she realized that.
There’s also that brief cameo of a St. Christopher icon (prayer card?). I didn’t really know St. Christopher already from previous knowledge so I had to go look him up. Apparently he may or may not be real, and he lived in the early first centuries after the death of Christ. I think what’s significant is that He’s often portrayed carrying the Child Jesus who is said to be extremely heavy because He carries the weight of the world. Perhaps ironically in the movie, you can see the whole world in the backdrop of most shots! And most fittingly, St. Christopher is a patron saint of travelers, especially when they encounter disasters. Hmm.
And those would be the three things that stood out to me in a Catholic way.
I think Fr. Robert Barron gives a more in-depth reflection on what stood out to him. Great video (WATCH OUT! SPOILER ALERTS!!!):
And Marcel points out some other aspects over at his blog at Aggie Catholics: Fr. Barron Gives Us A Great Reflection On The Movie Gravity.
And a movie critic review by Stephen Greydanus: SDG Reviews ‘Gravity’
Info St. Christopher // Catholic.org
St. Christopher Icon // St. Joseph School For Boys Bookstore – Orthodox Gift Shop
Gravity // Space.com