Every time a big new science fiction movie comes out, especially one that is based on the laws of physics, scientific principles, and things that actually exist, there are going to be those who come out of the woodwork to take potshots at the scientific accuracy. It’s usually fun, or at least interesting, to hear the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson explain why the Starship Enterprise couldn’t hide underwater like it does in Star Trek Into Darkness. As much as it has been critically adored and nominated for tons of awards, even Gravity is not immune to these criticisms. Perhaps it is even more open to them because it tries to be more realistic than other genre fare. We wouldn’t necessarily expect the same attention to detail out of, say, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, would we? Now Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron is firing back at those who dwell on the inaccuracies in his film.
Talking to EW, the Mexican-born filmmaker responded to those who feel the need to pick apart each and every last little bit of Gravity. Here’s how he addresses questions about the film’s scientific veracity:
It is [accurate]! I mean, maybe those people did not realize that Sandra Bullock is not an astronaut in real life. We tried to be as accurate as possible in the frame of our fiction. And the funny thing is that we get the criticism from people on Earth, but astronauts love the film. They say it’s the closest thing to being in space. That we have things that are not accurate? Of course — and actually, we know about them. And we chose to disregard those things, because we wanted first of all to honor the emotional journey of the film. The funny thing in all of these things — nobody has picked up on the most obvious one. And that is that when Sandra takes off her astronaut suit, she would be wearing an adult diaper. And obviously, we chose not to do that. And the same thing with the orbital planes and stuff. We chose not to do that. It’s a movie. It’s a movie!
Movies almost always make sacrifices in the realm of reality in order to serve the higher goals of story, character, theme, and all manner of other elements. It’s one thing if you make a huge mistake that takes viewers completely out of the world of the picture, but small mistakes and omissions—especially since most of us who saw the movie are not actually astronauts, physicists, engineers, or NASA employees—are easy to forgive. Like I said, it can be fun to find faults and pick at mistakes, but it helps to remember that 100% authenticity is not usually the goal, we are watching a movie after all.
One more thing, the adult diaper issue has been addressed. Astronaut Chris Hadfield went on Conan shortly after the release of Gravity, and brought up this omission. So don’t worry, someone’s on that.