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Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: The force of 'Gravity' delivers a 'wow' experience

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10 2013 5:20 p.m. MDT

Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone in "Gravity."

Warner Bros.

Life is made up of experiences. Some of them good, some of them bad, some of them exhilarating, some of them earth-shattering. Some I wish I could bottle up and save forever, releasing them into my memory so I can relive every detail, such as my wedding day. Others I wish I could erase completely, because still, even to this day, a sound or smell or song will come back with such screaming clarity I have to catch my breath, such as the day I found out about my brother’s brain tumor.

But each experience gives us strength to face another; each new trial, moment of peace or revelation builds our character and can truly change our outlook on life.

I had a great experience last week.

My husband took me to see the film “Gravity." We saw the film in IMAX 3-D, and let me tell you, it was an experience!

I have never felt so engrossed in a movie — like I was actually part of the experience, not just observing others living it. Because of the incredible filmmaking, you are made to feel like you are an astronaut. I’ve never been to space, but I can honestly say after experiencing “Gravity,” I have an intense first look of what it’s like.

Without giving too much away, the film follows an astronaut (Sandra Bullock) and another team member (George Clooney) into outer space on their mission as they attempt to fix the Hubble Space Telescope but are unable to complete the task because of some unforeseen dangers.

The film’s slogan is “Don’t let go,” but Bullock as biomedical engineer Ryan Stone spends the entirety desperately trying to do just that.

We follow Bullock through space as she desperately tries to find other space shuttles to take her back down to Earth … or consider the very real possibly of going up to heaven to be with a loved one she lost and hasn’t been able to let go.

The film is incredibly unique, not only because of the setting, or the fact that Bullock is the sole actress for most of the film, but because it is filmed as one continuous moment in time. There are no “earlier that day” or “later that evening” cutaways — everything happens in real time.

Besides being breathtakingly beautiful and delivering minute after minute of white-knuckled suspense, “Gravity” has several thought-provoking themes that force the viewer to learn to accept reality with a burning desire to never, ever give up.

I love films that aren’t made to simply entertain. I love films that make you think. I love films that grab you by the shoulders and pull you into their world — or out of the world.

Sometimes I sit on my couch in my little family room in Utah County and just look up at the sky. I look at the houses sitting on the hill by my home and wonder about the people living there. I think about all the houses around the Point of the Mountain. I think about the thousands of people in Utah, millions across the country, billions around the world. And it absolutely boggles my mind.

It’s hard to imagine all the people living on the same planet, in such incredibly different environments. Some things just seem so far away. I think sometimes, if we can push something — a thought, an experience, a person — far enough away, we think we can pretend it doesn’t exist.

But that doesn’t make it any less real.

“Gravity” forces you to think beyond yourself, beyond this world, even beyond this universe. It is at once both a shocking realization at how insignificant we all are, and how seemingly insignificant things — or people — can alter the course of your life.

"Our planet sits in a neighborhood within the universe, and we are all space explorers," astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman, who advised Bullock on the film, told CBS News. "I think space movies, in general, bring that message home to us. Whether we live with our feet on the planet or whether we live on the space station, we are all space travelers, and we are a people of space exploration."

Bullock, during a press conference the day the film opened, said this about watching herself in the film for the first time:

“All of a sudden, you find yourself affected in ways that you were not planning on being affected, and we had that same reaction. I think George and I both went, ‘Wow!’ You can’t really speak, after the film is over.”

I would recommend the film “Gravity” wholeheartedly to anyone who is in search of an amazing experience and great lesson on the desire to truly live life.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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