In Alfonso Cuarón’s last masterpiece Children of Men, the world is plagued by over twenty years of inexplicable infertility, leaving the citizens of Earth hopeless, lost, and quarrelsome. The protagonist, Theo Faron, encounters a girl, somehow pregnant, and hurries to escort her to the mythical “Human Project” for safekeeping. Of course, he encounters nothing but trouble along the way, including many that would like to gain power from the unrealized commodity of the child in utero.
Finally, the child is born. What follows is one of the climactic scenes of the movie, in which Theo carries the now newborn child out of a besieged building during a fire fight between rebels and the state. The cries of the baby bring the hundreds of combatants from both sides to a silent halt as they behold the first human to be born in two decades. No gunfire. No screaming. Nothing. A single perfect wave of awe.
The first time I watched this scene, I began to cry. It was not the sort of movie tears that you get from a long-awaited reunion scene or weepy last words. It was something very human and essential. It unhinged something in me, something very basic but easily forgotten. All of the warring and screaming and anger and gnashing of teeth — every reason that we struggle — is not for us. It is for others. We are in a world of others. It is through others that we find our meaning. It is easy to forget this, especially with so much loudness happening around us. But then a moment comes that we remember just what the hell we’re doing here anyhow. We’re here for each other.
I had this same feeling of emotional unhinging during my second viewing of Gravity, a film that is powerful enough for me to watch a million times, but stressful enough for me to limit to just twice. Without the anxiety of not knowing how things will turn out, I was better able to pay attention to the subtle motions of this beautiful film. I had more time to consider what it meant. Not just for Cuarón, but...