5 Plot Point Breakdown: Gravity (2013)

By Xiaofeng Chen · September 3, 2014


Screenplay Genre: Science Fiction / Disaster

Movie Time: 90 minutes


The space orbit Shuttle Explorer is docking at Hubble Space Telescope. Astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are taking spacewalks to fix Hubble’s faults. The Space Control notifies them that a Russian missile has just destroyed and satellite debris is on the way with Cosmic Speed. (7:07). But the debris’ orbit won’t cross with the orbit they are in so the astronauts are not worried and continue to work.

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

The debris causes a chain reaction: more and more space objects are damaged and make a space storm that sweeps across the orbit. Control warns the astronauts to abort the mission and avoid the debris, but it’s too late. A meteor shower of debris attacks the shuttle and the astronauts. In the chaos Ryan is stuck on the Canadarm of the shuttle and spins with it like Quixote on his windmill. She unbelts herself from the Canadarm and is thrown to the deep space… (12:55)

Ryan floats further and further. Matt chases and gets her. He belts Ryan with himself and takes her back to the shuttle. They find the shuttle has been damaged and the other astronaut is dead. Huston is cut off. They are on their own. They decide to go to the International Space Station to take its Soyuz Spaceship back earth. 

They forge ahead for the National Space Station with the jet-pack. When they have closed to it, they find it was hit by debris too: that Soyuz Spaceship’s parachute is torn and tangles on the station – meaning it won’t be used for re-entry. Ryan snags the station but the rope between she and Matt is cut in half by the solar battery board. Matt misses it and floats into the space. Ryan jumps off the station and gets Matt’s rope. They are barely connected to the space station by a parachute rope on Ryan’s foot. Matt sees the rope is snapping and unattaches himself from Ryan to make her safe and floats away.

Ryan’s oxygen is almost fully used. Matt keeps talking to Matt via radio while he is floating deep into space; he encourages her and tells her how to board the space station. Ryan gets inside the station, finds Matt is off the line and the empty station is is then set on fire. Ryan can’t put the fire out and gets in the Soyuz spaceship and tries to separate from the station. But the spaceship is tangled with the station by the parachute and dangles again and again like a bungee jumper.


Ryan puts on a Russian spacesuit and goes out of the Soyuz to get the parachute off. As she is doing this, the debris returns. The debris smashes the space station and almost kills her. (53:24)

Ryan tries to start the engine to go to Chinese Space Station “Tiangong” which is her last hope. But she finds the rocket has no fuel! She stays in the spaceship with zero brainpower for fresh ideas. The temperature drops down and the module is as cold as a Russian’s winter. Ryan calls for help by radio and gets nobody but a man on earth named Aningaaq (Orto Ignatiussen) who talks in a language she doesn’t understand. It is nothing helpful, but helps her not feel as lonely.

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Ryan falls into delusion. Matt “comes and tells her to use the landing rocket on the landing capsule.” Ryan wakes up, finds Matt isn’t with her. She separates the capsule from the spaceship as Matt said to do in her dream, ignites its landing rocket and flies to the Chinese Station “Tiangong.” When the capsule has closed to Tiangong, she opens the hatch and glides to it like an air skater. Controlling the direction and slowing down with a sprying extinguisher, she meets Tiangong and catches it! (1:12:17)


Ryan boards Tiangong but finds it is falling into the atmosphere (into more debris). She must be fast or it will be another Columbia. She enters Shenzhou spaceship, separates it from the breaking up Tiangong and moves forward with re-entry to the earth. The landing capsule pops off Tiangong and burns in the dense atmosphere, makes Ryan worries it won’t make it. The parachute opens at last! The capsule slows down and lands in a lake. Ryan opens the hatch. The water fills in and the capsule sinks into the water. Ryan gets out of the capsule and swims to the surface. (1:20:50) At last she reaches the shore and steps on soil again!  

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