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Stuart Klawans’s Essential “Weightless Burdens” Is Epically Thorough

In response to Stuart Klawans’s 1554‑word review of Gravity on The Nation

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Stuart Klawans tackles every aspect of Gravity in his ambitious, thorough, and epically lenghty “Weightless Burdens.” Klawans expertly and confidently marches his audience from one interesting discussion to the next, covering audience reactions, camera tricks, technical achievements, screenwriting issues, visual imagery, and the legacy of film without ever condescending or preaching to his audience.

Burdens is remarkable. It’s so long that most readers will automatically assume it to be dense. Nothing could be further from the truth, the writing is light and at times even funny. Klawans does a fine job of inserting clues as to where his writing will end up, keeping readers engaged from start to finish. While the read certainly doesn’t feel short, it never drags.

The argument and the writing are top notch. Klawans isn’t necessarily the greatest film critic out there, but few have the nerve to let all of their ideas and arguments run as free as he does. There is a real joy in spending as much time as Klawans does discussing the basic assumptions of a movie going audience, knowing that there is still plenty of time left for talk of Sandra Bullock’s performance, the three-dimensional tears of the tagline, and one of the finer 2001: A Space Odyssey discussions on record.  

Burdens is a triumph. It is an adult work, that requires commitment and engagement, but it isn’t a task. It isn’t a maze. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive look at a very important film.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation