***SPOILERS*** It has been said that there are no atheists in foxholes, can the same be said for outer space?
“Gravity” has gotten a lot of press this Awards Season including multiple nominations for Academy Awards, and so it should; it’s a very good film. There is, however, one aspect of the film that is lost to most of the media and that is its coming to faith message. If you look at the movie from a faith perspective, it is a movie about discovery — not the discovery that there is an awful lot of stuff floating around out there or that the Hubble Telescope can be fixed by an M.D., but rather the discovery of a very personal inner faith. It is a story about Baptism: it is a story about finding God.
Though God is never named in the movie, we see Him throughout the film; in the stars, in the characters, and in the little religious mementos that seem to be in each of the space stations (a holy card in the Russian ship and the Buddha in the Chinese ship). Through a series of accidents, George Clooney’s and Sandra Bullock’s characters find themselves stranded alone in space, without any way to get home or any way to contact Earth. They are running out of air, options, and time, with only Clooney’s jetpack for transportation, and even that is running on fumes at this point. Seeing no other way to get home, Clooney sacrifices himself so that Bullock might live.
With barely any training, she has to rely on what Clooney has given her and try to get back home. Soon after we see an icon of Saint Christopher in a Russian capsule, Bullock realizes that she will probably die in that capsule. She laments that she will die alone and no one will even pray for her soul. She cannot even pray for her own soul, because she was “never taught how.” There has rarely been a simple prayer expressed more eloquently than it is here. It is in that discovery of faith that she experiences a conversion. She does experience a death, but not a physical death, rather but the realization she cannot do this alone. In that death of self, she finds life. She comes to believe in something greater, asking the now dead Clooney to find her deceased daughter and to tell her that she loves her. She finds the strength she needs to move forward in the Communion of the Saints! Her salvation, both spiritual and physical, comes in the form of a baptism that starts with one single tear and ends in a lake in an Eden-like setting. She emerges from that lake a new creation, forever changed.
At the very end Bullock offers the prayer that we so often neglect in our own lives: “Thank you.” She has been spiritually and physically saved, and knows she would not have been able to do it alone.