Spoiler alert: I will be referring to the end of the movie in this post, so proceed at your own risk.
“Gravity” is billed as a movie that will leave you thinking about it long after the credits roll.
For me, that turned out to be true.
But initially I was disappointed in the ending.
“It felt incomplete,” I told a friend on the way out of the theater. “The movie ends with Ryan’s (portrayed by Sandra Bullock) safe return home and that was compelling, but it should have gone on to show us what she did with her second chance. It needed to be 30 minutes longer.”
I wanted to know if she found a way to honor fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski (portrayed by George Clooney) for giving up his life for her. I wanted to know if she found hope after the death of her four-year old child. I wanted to know if she learned to reconnect with people rather than pulling away from them. I wanted to see hope.
Jesus showed us what redemption looks like.
He told us to turn the other cheek, and then did so as he was nailed to a cross. He told us to love our enemies and then forgave his own enemies as he hung on the cross. He told us that possessing great love means a willingness to lay down one’s life for his friends, and then he gave up his life for us while we were still lost in our sin.
Twenty-four hours after seeing “Gravity,” my mind drifted back to the scene in which Matt let go of the tether line so Ryan could live. It seemed liked an easy decision for him.
That’s when it hit me, I’d been focusing on the wrong portion of the movie.
As Matt drifted away from Ryan toward death, he wasn’t frantic or fearful. Instead, he spoke in a loving, controlled tone, walking Ryan through the various steps she would need to take to find safety. Once she grasped that, he took in the beauty of his surroundings. “Oh, you should see this,” he said, looking down at the earth shortly before he presumably died.
We never learned a lot about Matt. We did learn he was on his last mission and he had hopes of setting a new spacewalking record of sorts. But we didn’t learn a lot about his background. Instead, he was more focused on learning Ryan’s background – even before the crisis occurred. He was the veteran, she was the rookie, and as such she needed his calming presence, so he found ways to get her to talk about herself, even though she clearly wasn’t comfortable doing so.
That leads me, and maybe you, to consider how he got to the place in his life in which he was able to make the ultimate sacrifice, without any reservation, when the situation warranted it. Prompting such contemplation is the real power of the movie, in my opinion.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.