Alfonso Cuarón Defies Gravity

Studio 360

Alfonso Cuarn wrote Gravity's screenplay with his son, Jonas, in three weeks. Considering the visual effects needed to realize their vision, the senior Cuarn knew it would take much longer than that to direct the film, but he had no idea he was in the incipient stages of an undertaking that would last over four years.

"It was a miscalculation," he tells Kurt Andersen. "I finished the script and thought it was something straightforward, but we realized the technology did not exist." Cuarn, along with his trusted cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, began consulting various visual effects teams in order to produce the robots, rigs, and wires it would take to simulate Gravity's characters floating around in space for nearly the entirety of the film's 90 minutes --- a feat that's never before been attempted in cinema. Though it took several years, the filmmakers managed to pull it off, and stunningly so. "It's maybe the first film I've seen since Avatar that used 3D in a fantastic way," Kurt tells Cuarn.

Despite all the action, trailblazing effects, and a few more of Cuarn's famous endless tracking shots, the director doesn't want the film to be seen as a spectacle. "This film would be completely shallow if not for the biggest visual effect here --- that's the performance of Sandra Bullock."

We should not expect Cuarn to direct a Gravity II. His filmography includes the children's drama A Little Princess, Y Tu Mam Tambin, a Harry Potter movie, and the apocalyptic Children of Men. He is a director who doesn't repeat himself or stick within a genre, and he doesn't look back. "Ever since I finish my films, I never see them again," Cuarn tells Kurt. His films are not like his children --- more his ex-wives. "They gave me so much, I gave them so much, we loved each other so much, but now we've parted ways. We don't see each other."

Alfonso Cuarn's 3 for 360

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