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NASA weighs in on ‘Gravity’

Two astronauts marvel at the film’s authenticity.
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Jonathan Doyle, September 30, 2013 12:13:11 PM

When Gravity opens in theatres on Friday, everyone will get a chance to see what critics, festivalgoers, and James Cameron are raving about. Adding yet another voice of support is NASA astronaut Dr. Mike Massimino, veteran of the Space Shuttle Atlantis mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. This undertaking was chronicled in Hubble 3D, the 2010 IMAX documentary that Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón has cited as a crucial influence on his film. With that in mind, it’s a considerable triumph that Massimino believes Cuarón has accurately recreated his experience in space. “Somebody did their homework,” he said in a new IMAX featurette. “Everything is exactly like it was on our mission.”

It doesn’t hurt that NASA’s Dr. Cady Coleman served as a consultant on the film, advising Sandra Bullock on her extremely convincing performance as astronaut Ryan Stone. This collaboration came about thanks to a chance encounter between two of their family members. “When I was about three months into my space station mission, my brother met Sandra Bullock’s brother-in-law,” Coleman said. “They arranged that she and I would talk because she was about to go to space.”

Before watching this featurette, be forewarned that IMAX tries to steal some of the credit for the achievements of Cuarón and his collaborators. Whether you see the film in IMAX or another 3D format, you will experience its many cinematic breakthroughs, even if Massimino suggests otherwise. “The IMAX format I think captured the emotion of what it’s like to be there in a time of crisis,” he said, giving the company credit for the filmmakers’ innovations. “The big format, the beautiful hues, brings back a lot of good memories.”

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