Gravity: Clooney/Bullock Film Thrills, Dosen’t Inspire

Does it take a movie to make us care about space?

Gravity, stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as NASA astronauts who become untethered from their damaged space shuttle.  Clooney provides levity in a situation that seems doomed.  The views are stunning; the shots of space are considered as authentic as ever produced.  Unknown

It’s billed as a science fiction thriller though there are no signs of any extraterrestrial life.  Watching, (or hiding my eyes), I almost wished some sort of alien would appear.

I contrast this film with others about space that were based on true stories;  The Right Stuff   (also a fantastic book), Unknown-1  and Apollo 13   Unknown come to mind. As star-studded as Gravity, these brought the world of space travel to life.

Growing up in the 1960’s the space program dominated the news. I watched rockets launching into space on our small black and white television. I followed the astronauts in orbit, mesmerized at the feat, awed by their courage.  Space travel, landing on the moon, the lives of the astronauts captivated my imagination and kindled my passion for news. I wrote to NASA and received packets of information and photographs—all for free.

I worry that we’ve become so jaded about space exploration we need a movie, and a fictitious thriller at that, to turn our attention skyward. The previous space films inspired me, perhaps not to become an astronaut, (or even consider for a second going as a tourist).  They  not only reminded me of the what I’d loved as a child but believe as an adult. Those steps on the moon, walks into space, experiments conducted in space stations are for the benefit of  humankind.

I remember a news story this past July about Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. His space suit filled with water while he was working outside the space shuttle not too unlike Clooney and Bullock.    Parmitano is in the midst of a six -month mission.

The story was buried in my newspaper’s middle pages and received little notice on the television and radio news.  The bravery of these astronauts, the dangers they face in the name of science seem to have become ho-hum.

This month marks the 56th anniversary of the beginning of the Space Age when the Soviet Union sent Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite into orbit.

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine whether sending people into space is worth the money and the risks. Drones and robots seem capable of all sorts of feats; surely we can rely on them to accurately accumulate data and repair faulty equipment.

There’s much to learn about space; hopefully science that can help fix problems here on Earth.

What’s your memory of the Space Program?

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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23 Responses to Gravity: Clooney/Bullock Film Thrills, Dosen’t Inspire

  1. You’ve got me thinking. I don’t know. There is something so… mystical about space travel — but do we need to risk human life? do we need to spend so much time and money on it?

    Good questions.

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  2. Great post. I do recall watching blast offs in black and white early in the morning before going to school. It was very exciting. I remember the fire that killed three astronauts, and of course The Challenger accident. There are always risks, and people resent the money spent on it, but so much of the technology that we use today was developed as a part of the space program. And it seems to me a good thing for us all to be looking up in wonder at the stars as human beings with a common goal.

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  3. Meryl Baer says:

    I remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on a black and white TV at college.
    We humans have a curiosity to see what is on the other side of the mountain – or on distant planets. Space travel will always be in our imaginations, on our TV and movie screens (how many of us still watch old Star Trek shows!?), and some will work hard at actually getting to those distant places.

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  4. I find space facinating too. I am the first to say I don’t want to go out there though, but the things we learn are amazing. What about this one-way Mars mission? Have you heard much about that? colonizing another planet – wow!

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  5. I remember when Alan Shepard went into space! I was living in Summit, New Jersey.

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  6. I can’t wait to see the movie. Everything I have read about the story and the effects is fascinating. I remember watching all of the news and wanting to be an astronaut. I then found out I was near-sighted and needed glasses so that was no longer a possibility. I hope we can reignite the space program.

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  7. Our whole family has been waiting for a chance to see this movie, Lisa, and your post only makes me more excited! This post also makes me sad, emotional… I have always been a little kid when it comes to space. It still amazes me, and leaves me in awe. I’ve been to NASA in FL two times, and always get chills, leave feeling nostalgic and teary… but our last visit was just months before they ended the space shuttle program, and I felt such a huge loss! I agree, we’ve become jaded, and we don’t give enough credit to these brave pioneers. Thanks for reminding us.

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  8. Leah says:

    I’ve been wanting to see Gravity too. One of my first memories of space travel was January 28, 1986 when the Challemger exploded. It was the day my baby sister was born. I was home from school and saw the images on the news.

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  9. hugmamma says:

    Like you, I’m fascinated by…space…but I’ve no desire to get up close and personal with it. It’s hard to imagine folks with money to burn are heading there for…a look-see. Have you seen the recent film…Elysium? I think it starred Matt Damon as an inhabitant of earth, ravaged by mankind and left to the poor, who attempts to sabotage Elysium, the planet newly-minted as the home of the…rich and famous. With what’s happening in our country, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine folks like the Koch brothers who fund the Tea Party and Boehner’s coffers, are looking for a new Cayman Islands…in outer space. Fiction…becoming reality. Food for thought.

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  10. We used to have a race to space when I was young, and I kind of miss that! At the rate we are going, we will most likely need another planet to populate soon.

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  11. Pingback: My 300th Post: 2013 Highlights | cyclingrandma

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