The joy Alfonso Cuarón feels at Gravity‘s Golden Globes showing — four nominations, including one for Cuarón as director and Best Drama — can probably be felt from space. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” he says. Making the movie meant spending “four and a half years in a cave — and the predictions were a little grim early on in the process.”
Now, though, he’s reached the blazing light at the end of the tunnel — which is all the more impressive considering the caliber of movies released in 2013. “I think this is an amazing year in cinema,” Cuarón continued. “And there’s a comeback of that kind of cinema that we were all afraid was getting lost in terms of the mainstream American or Hollywood context — that is, these mid- to low-budget films, a lot of them dramas… Or even a film like Gravity, that is not a sequel or a franchise.”
Read on for more on Cuarón’s Globes thoughts — and the one Gravity inaccuracy he says nobody’s caught onto yet.
I know you were just on a plane — where you coming from and going to?
I got stranded. I was in airport limbo while all of these things happened. So I got the news, but I had a lot of other issues to deal with. Ugh. Airport limbo. Canceled flights and all of that stuff. Now I landed in Italy, and I’m on my way home to see my kids.
I almost made some kind of Gravity joke about your air troubles, but then I thought that might be inappropriate.
It was pretty much like that, you know? I was just thinking — and then I was on the plane. Because there were so many cancellations, the flight that I got was packed, and everybody was in such a bad mood. And you know, the nerve of these people not congratulating me, and not saying, “Come on, we upgrade you”! You know? They should do this stuff!
Did a vision of George Clooney appear to you and boost your spirits?
Exactly, yeah, from the window. But he was more like the vision of Twilight Zone.
It took you years to make Gravity — now that you’ve come out on the other side, would you say all the frustration was worth it?
Yeah, it’s been worth it. Even since we were doing it, it was worth it because it took awhile but the process was always interesting. We had our moments of frustration, but most of the time it was nonstop work. We were developing technology, we were doing animations — and then trying new systems, systems that didn’t work so we’ve got to try another system. I think that’s the big difference: If we had to be waiting for someone, or waiting for money or anything — we didn’t stop working. It was not as if we were waiting for the greenlight.
Have you thought about how you might want to use the technology you developed for another movie?
I don’t want to use that technology; I want to go and do a movie in which people walk. The technology was a byproduct of the creative needs of doing this film. It was not that we set out to create new technology. And it was very exciting, the whole process of trying to figure out how to make the film. But if could, I would have done this film with as conventional tools as possible. If I could, I would have shot the film in space, with a camera and that’s it.
Angelina Jolie was originally signed on to star in Gravity, but you had to find a replacement when she dropped out. Looking back, do you think the movie would have worked as well as it does without Sandra Bullock?
For me, I think that Sandra is this film. Again, all that technology was just in support of an emotional and thematic film that the core of it is Sandra’s performance. And in the process, whatever decisions we were making with Sandra, those decisions were also informing the technology. So this film is Sandra. I cannot imagine this film any other way.
What’s your response to criticisms about the movie’s scientific accuracy?
It is [accurate]! I mean, maybe those people did not realize that Sandra Bullock is not an astronaut in real life. We tried to be as accurate as possible in the frame of our fiction. And the funny thing is that we get the criticism from people on Earth, but astronauts love the film. They say it’s the closest thing to being in space. That we have things that are not accurate? Of course — and actually, we know about them. And we chose to disregard those things, because we wanted first of all to honor the emotional journey of the film. The funny thing in all of these things — nobody has picked up on the most obvious one. And that is that when Sandra takes off her astronaut suit, she would be wearing an adult diaper. And obviously, we chose not to do that. And the same thing with the orbital planes and stuff. We chose not to do that. It’s a movie. It’s a movie!