Cape Town - When I saw the film Gravity late last year, I agreed with just about everyone else on the planet that it was one of the best damn movies that had ever been made.
Described as “a 3D science fiction thriller and space drama film directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Cuarón", it attracted universal (no pun intended) acclaim from critics and the viewing public.
Then something happened which, unfortunately, completely changed the way I saw the film.
I bought a paperback. In a small Book Exchange in, of all places, Jeffrey’s Bay. A novel by Tess Gerritsen, also called Gravity.
I have read other books by Gerritsen. She is an accomplished author, and her books have been translated into many languages. Yet after reading the book, Gravity, I must admit I felt cheated. Cheated, not by Gerritsen, but by the guys in Hollywood.
The similarities between the two products are more glaring than the differences.
Both the film and the book involve astronauts, space satellites, present-day technology, and daring rescue missions. Both are – in a way – love stories.
Though Gerritsen’s tale is much longer, involving more twists and more extra characters, both stories hinge on the interaction between two main characters – a male and a female – who are, in various stages of the plot, in free-floating in orbits around the earth. The only difference is that, in the movie, Sandra Bullock is a bit of a wimp (albeit a beautiful one), and George Clooney a rather likeable, slightly clownish, semi-alcoholic anti-hero.
I thought Bullock and Clooney quite believable at first, but I must admit that, after reading the book, they began to resemble caricatures in my mind, cheap copies of the much more three-dimensional characters created in Gerritsen’s unputdownable 500 -page masterpiece.
The film could very well be based on some kind of Readers’ Digest Abridged Version of the book, with a similar atmosphere (no pun intended), similar mood, but a vastly simplified plot.
In her personal blog, Tess Gerritsen good-humouredly brushes off the similarities between the movie and her novel:
“I’ve been receiving a number of emails from readers, congratulating me on the new movie, Gravity, which they believe is based on my book with the same title…
Two tales about a lone female astronaut trapped aboard a space station and struggling to get home. Both are titled Gravity.
But the movie has absolutely no connection to my book. At least, not that anyone’s told me about. (Mr. Cuarón, feel free to email me!)
I have to admit, these coincidences do happen sometimes.”
But does this mean she is okay about the whole thing? Is she really?
Well, not quite. In her very soft-spoken, gracious way, and, apparently without an iota of spite or bitterness, she adds what she sees as a possible explanation, revealing, in the process, some rather alarming tidbits of information about the inner workings of the film industry! Read on:
“Here are some other coincidences.
When the film rights to my book Gravity were sold (they’re held by 20th Century Fox) the studio hired a fine screenwriter named Michael Goldenberg to adapt the book to film. Goldenberg was also the screenwriter who wrote Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Alfonso Cuarón also has a Harry Potter connection. He directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Finally, there’s David Heyman, who’s the producer of Cuarón’s Gravity. He was also the producer of BOTH Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. So he knows both Cuarón and Goldenberg.
It’s a small world out in Hollywood. I can’t help but wonder if the name Gravity, and “lone female astronaut trapped aboard space station” ever came up in conversation among the three of them!”
What do you think?
If you are still undecided, read this for even more impossible coincidences duly noted by Gerritsen...
In my mind, this could very well be one of the most blatant and brazen acts of plagiarism ever seen in Hollywood!
To be quite honest; if I were Tess Gerritsen, I would not be as gentlemanly about the whole thing. I would want, not only my cut of the movie profits, but also my bit of the credit for being the brain behind the idea.
All in all, we, the public, should view this whole mystery as something worthy of an enquiry, and the possible dishonesty of the role-players involved in this mess should be seen as a situation of the utmost gravity (pun intended).
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