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Richard Corliss’s “Gravity” Review Is a Triumph of Epic Proportions

In response to Richard Corliss’s 1065‑word review of Gravity on TIME Magazine

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Cinema is the art of saying much with little time. In “Gravity at the Venice Film Festival: Dread and Awe in Space,” Richard Corliss doesn’t skimp on word count—nor does he waste a single moment of his audience’s time.

Set against the backstory of a young man’s impossible dream of being both filmmaker and astronaut, Corliss’s review launches into the darkness of the unknown and begins its deconstruction of the cinematic elements of style. Premise—check. Character—check. Vision—check.

A third of the way through the stellar review, all systems are go for a thrill-ride that refuses to spare detail, but selects details for the constellations they ultimately form.

Language here is used less as a tool and more as a central conceit. An artist can only describe inasmuch as the toolbox of vocabulary allows; but Dread and Awe in Space delightfully blends recap, reaction, sentiment, perspective, and analysis to the point that they’re part and parcel to the same mission.

The audience is invited to revel in the experiment, and it works on every level. It’s an emotional, pulse-pounding journey through the experience of the reviewer, whose insight is dependent on (but somehow separate from) the young man with a dream introduced in the first act. In a similar move, Corliss’s experience becomes the reader’s own unique journey.

A couple of spoilers—ones kept under wraps in similar works—keep this review from achieving immediate classic status. Nevertheless, they’re easy to ignore and do little to distract from what’s sure to be a thrill-ride for both the casual reader and the seasoned.

Dread and Awe in Space supersedes the review form and cannot afford to be ignored by any lover of the medium.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation