Review #155: (Soundtrack) Steven Price – Gravity

Composer – Steven Price
Film – Gravity (2013)


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Gravity is a science-fiction movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, centering around the destruction of their space shuttle mid flight and Sandra Bullocks characters attempts to return to earth. Gravity was highly regarded by critics and movie goers for its incredible imagery, taking the team ‘Framestore’ almost 3 years to create 80 minutes of special effect for a 91 minute movie. When awards season came about Gravity won 7 Oscars for directing, best score, visual effects, cinematography and editing, as well as being nominated for best film and best actress (Sandra Bullock).

What Alfonso Cuaron and Steven Price did on this film was very interesting. As there is no sound in space (or it can’t be heard) the decision was to not to have any impact sounds or any sound altogether, other than the actors communication through radio and the films soundtrack. Most composers job is to use music to elevate the emotional impact of whatever is happening in a scene. Steven’s role in Gravity however is even more important, as he has to also create the feeling of impact between debris hitting a shuttle or Bullock tinkering with the ship, without it being too obvious. To create the sci-fi feel there are synths used, but in a mild way, usually for the beautiful shots of earth and the shuttle. The more dramatic sections use these synth in a grating way, almost like nails down a chalk board, to create tension. Also during these climactic moments a more orchestral sound is introduced, Booming percussion to display impact and a sustained scratching string section building momentum. Whereas soundtracks such as Star Wars incorporate hooks and memorable pieces of music to engrane special moments in the listener’s mind, a film like Gravity doesn’t have moments that repeat, it simply needs music that can direct the listener’s mind and emotions through this one off story.

Gravity’s score was very much set up like the music of silent cinema, there to replace the effect of real life sound on the viewer, due to the limitations of the time. It is a fantastic piece of work, evoking a real sense of tension throughout the film.

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