Gravity, Planet Of The Apes, And Doctor Who: What Do They Have In Common?

By Nick Venable | 8 years ago

gravityI’m assuming if you’re even slightly well versed in cinema, you’re aware that Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 film Planet of the Apes does not involve a small space crew getting stranded out in the nothingness of outer space. So if you haven’t yet seen Alfonso Cuaron’s gorgeous space thriller Gravity yet, you should just turn back now, as there are spoilers wandering around below. Also, why haven’t you seen Gravity yet?


Thanks to Badass Digest, we now know that both of the aforementioned films share a location that ties into their narrative themes. But not one near the ISS or a fallen Statue of Liberty. Think something wetter.

At the end of Gravity, there is a somewhat hamfisted sequence where Sandra Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, comes crashing back down to Earth inside a Chinese space capsule. She lands in a lake, and there are a few fleeting moments when her safety is a concern. Of course she inevitably makes her way out of the capsule and emerges from the water onto land, crawling through the dirt and gripping it in her fists, entirely grateful to have something of Earth to hold onto again. She then stumbles to her feet and awkwardly walks off into the distance. It’s a moment of “rebirth” in a foreign-but-not-foreign land.

So it’s really no shock that the body of water she landed in is Lake Powell, the same lake that Charlton Heston and the Icarus crew crashed into near the beginning of Planet of the Apes. If we’re making comparisons here, this was almost like a rebirth for the astronauts as well, who had been in deep hibernation for two millennia and woke up without realizing where they were. Of course, it wasn’t much of an awakening for the crew member that died, but you get my drift. (Drift, like in water?) Here’s a shot of the setting below.

planet of the apes

Interestingly enough, this is also a setting shown in two Doctor Who episodes, “The Impossible Astronaut” and “The Wedding of River Song.” The episodes involved time traveling Doctors and alternate timelines and all the signature weirdness of the series. Take a look at that image below.

doctor who impossible astronaut

So, does any of this really mean anything very deep? Not really, though it does speak to the power of the “empty planet” landscape that surrounds the lake, which sits on part of the border between Arizona and Utah. Given Gravity‘s budget and production, they could have just filmed Bullock diving into a pool on a film set and added in a background later. But then this story wouldn’t exist, and we’d be no better than some damned dirty apes.