(Gravity spoiler alert: Movie plot-points revealed below)
On the Monday after the first Friday of a blockbuster space movie, the crazy talk starts. Always happens (The 2001 monolith is real! The Apollo 13 mission was faked!), always will. So too with Gravity, courtesy of this post on The Wrap, arguing that Sandra Bullock’s character Ryan Stone actually died in space, or, to be more specific, that she “…never actually made it to the beach of some remote paradise. Not in her Earthbound form, anyway.” The movie is more about “absolution,” says The Wrap, about how “Ryan’s soul has in fact detached and drifted early in the third act.”
The grounding for this 3 a.m. bong talk? Why, it’s the “real-world precedent for mystical phenomenon in aerospace. From the spirit-guide visit Charles Lindbergh described during his transcontinental flight to John Glenn’s ‘fireflies’ swirling Friendship 7 to the outlandish tales told by certain moon astronauts.”
Deep breaths now, Wrappies. Lindbergh’s “spirit guides”—the presence he felt in the cockpit as he flew—were a lot likelier the result of simple fatigue. You try flying 33 hours solo from New York to Paris on no sleep and see if your gyros don’t go a little goofy. Glenn’s fireflies were ice crystals clinging to the sides of his ship, which went spangling into space when he knocked on the bulkhead. And the mention in the post of the tales told by “certain Apollo astronauts” links only to something Buzz Aldrin once said about aliens. But throughout the course of his remarkable career, Buzz has sometimes shown a willingness to say any damn thing. Ed Mitchell came back from his Apollo 14 mission in 1971 and has bean a believer in the paranormal ever since—putting him in the company of millions and millions of other people who never had to go to the moon to embrace such silliness.
For the rest of us on planet Earth (Wrap, you may recuse yourself), watch Gravity, enjoy Gravity, but don’t overthink Gravity. You’ll be less embarrassed in the morning.