To showcase Gravity during last night's second gala of The 57th BFI London Film Festival was a fantastic coup for the festival organisers. The Odeon Leicester Square once again attracted major stars with Sandra Bullock hitting the red carpet with acclaimed director and producer pairing Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman.
Addressing the audience before the film, Cuaron said his vision was to create something that "was suspenseful and emotional at the same time."
His first film in seven years is an insanely ambitious and stunningly realised achievement that anyone with an interest in cinema should see in 3D on the biggest screen possible. In its economical 91 minute run-time it features more jaw-dropping moments than every other film this year combined.
Although the Oscars and BAFTAs are still a few months away I'm putting it on the record now that I'd be happy for the respective academies to close the competition forthwith and just give all the main prizes to Gravity.
The film opens with a shot of the earth that if the production notes didn't tell me, I'd think Cuaron and his ridiculously talented cinematographer Emmanuel Lubicki had popped up to the thermosphere to capture. Like every shot in the film, it's beautifully realised and wholly believable.
Slowly a spaceship attached to the Hubble Space telescope floats into view. There's little sound, except radio chatter from a trio of astronauts working on the telescope. Sandra Bullock plays Dr.Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission.
Understandably, she's nervous, as you would be 600km above the earth in conditions that are best described as harsh. Luckily she gets to listen to the soothing tones of her captain, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Who better to calm your nerves than Clooney?
He's darting around the outside of the ship on a spacewalk when mission control order them to abort the mission - a Russian satellite has been destroyed and thousands of pieces of debris are heading their way at speed. A moment's hesitation later and the telescope and ship are being torn to shreds. Stone is set adrift from the ship, spinning wildly with seemingly nowhere to go.
Her situation seems hopeless but, as we're about to learn, she's a resourceful woman.
That's just the first 15 minutes of the film and it's all presented in one seemingly continuous take. It's an astonishing sequence, introducing the characters, the environment and the plot with incredible skill. This is seriously next level filmmaking.
What follows, as Stone attempts to somehow get back to earth, is gripping, harrowing, beautiful and like nothing I've seen before. The casting is also terrific. Few actresses are as engaging as Sandra Bullock, which is ideal with such an economic set-up and Clooney is perfect as the seen-it-all captain. Anyone familiar with the trailer who expects the film to be 90 minutes of Sandra Bullock floating in space is in for a tremendous surprise.
It's a goddamn marvel and deserves every accolade that is surely coming its way.