Gravity has fascinated the human mind since an apple first landed on Newton’s bewigged head. But with an absence of gravity being one of space’s biggest selling points, surprisingly few science fiction films have ventured to represent this in any serious way, preferring “artificial gravity” to the hard task of putting a weightless environment on screen.
The weight is over (gettit?), here are some of the best low gravity sequences science fiction has to offer.
Set in 2057, Danny Boyle’s stellar Sunshine is about a team of astronauts sent aboard the Icarus II to reignite the sun. On the way things turn sour as they pick up a distress call from the original Icarus mission. There’s a whole movie of space-based shenanigans to choose from here. Check out this clip for an example of the scale and power of the film.
Some people will do anything for a tan.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Leave it to Stanley Kubrick to use a space setting to its full potential in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he packs full of gravity being used in mind boggling ways, leaving you thinking “how did they do that?”
Some conspiracy theorists believe Kubrick helped the US government fake the moon landing, and from this footage it’s easy to see why. Not content just to explore the limits of space, Kubrick explored the limits of cinematic illusion in ways that are as impressive today as they were 45 years ago. While there are many fantastic subversions of gravity in the film, this scene of an astronaut jogging around a ship is particularly memorable.
Zero gravity means space, right? Wrong. In The Matrix, gravity is just another rule in the giant computer system that’s controlling our lives. And if it’s a rule of a computer system it can be broken. In this scene Neo (Keanu Reeves), with his brain freshly loaded with kung fu, tries out his skills on Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) in one of many spectacular, gravity-defying fist fights from the Matrix trilogy.
WALL·E was a high point for Pixar as their diminutive robot protagonist jetted off into space in pursuit of a sexy lady robot called EVE. When WALL·E escapes from a space pod set to self destruct his only means of propulsion is a fire extinguisher he finds on board. As his prospective Mrs·E flies out to meet him, the two dance in this beautiful zero gravity sequence.
Christopher Nolan’s super cool – and super confusing – dream world of Inception saw trademark innovative storytelling coupled with equally innovative fighting. In this scene, the two guys in the hallway are inside the dream of one of the people in the white van. When the van flips over, so does the dream world, making this a fight to remember.
Ron Howard’s real life story of a space mission gone wrong dazzled audiences with extensive weightless scenes which used a range of techniques from tilting sets, wires and filming on weightless flights to get such a realistic look, and boy did it pay off. Houston, we have a very good zero gravity sequence.