Reviews by Tyson: Love (2011)

After losing contact with Earth, astronaut Lee Miller becomes stranded in orbit alone aboard the International Space Station. As time passes and life support systems dwindle, Lee battles to maintain his sanity – and simply stay alive. His world is a claustrophobic and lonely existence, until he makes a strange discovery aboard the ship.

Love is a 2011 science fiction film produced and scored by the rock band Angels & Airwaves. The film is the directorial debut of filmmaker William Eubank and stars Gunner Wright as the astronaut Lee Miller. It took over 4 years to complete and the actual space station was built in the directors parents back yard to cut down on costs. Please don’t let the low-budget approach put you off, Love is visually incredible to look at as I hope some of the pictures throughout this review show.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a huge Angels & Airwaves fan. If you have never heard of them (most of you probably) they are led by frontman Tom Delonge (Blink 182) and he was really the driving force behind getting this movie made. They released two albums ‘Love’ & ‘Love: Part 2′ to coincide with the movie release and the songs appear throughout the film. The band financed the whole movie and Delonge was with the director at the festivals whist promoting it. This is not just a rock star using his money to get any old piece of crap movie made – Love is clearly a passion project for Delonge and he went to great lengths to make a serious movie.

To use the directors quote in his summary for the film:

Love portrays the personal-psychological effects of isolation and loneliness when an astronaut becomes stranded in space and through this, emphasizes the importance of human connection and love. Additionally, it touches on the fragility of humankind’s existence (explored through a dying Earth-apocalyptic doomsday scenario) inspired by the cautions of Carl Sagan in Pale Blue Dot and considers the importance of memories and stories as humanity’s legacy.

Some pretty heavy stuff I’m sure you will agree. My science fiction film knowledge is average at best, and whilst many critics stated that Love was reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, and Solaris to name just a few, I’m ashamed to admit I have never seen any of them. If Angels & Airwaves didn’t create this film, chances are I would never have seen it. Now all I want to do is go and see these other sci-fi classics as I really feel I have missed out. Love has honestly opened my eyes to the genre and I’m sure I will be very grateful.

Love starts during an 1864 battle of the American Civil War. We are introduced to a lone Union soldier, Captain Lee Briggs (Bradley Horne), who is dispatched on a mission to investigate a mysterious object which has been reported to Union forces. We then cut to 175 years later, in the year 2039, and we meet United States astronaut Lee Miller (Gunner Wright) who has been sent to the International Space Station (or the ISS) as a one-man skeleton crew. His mission is to examine whether or not it is safe for use and to perform the necessary modifications after it had been abandoned two decades earlier. His cause is not helped by the manual being in russian (we’ve all been there!). Shortly after arriving on-board, something happens on Earth, which eventually results in Miller losing all human contact back home. Miller struggles to maintain his sanity while in isolation by interacting with Polaroid pictures of former ISS crew members left aboard the ship. When the station has some power glitches, Miller journeys into a different module of the space station to perform repairs and discovers the 1864 journal of Briggs (the Union soldier). Miller reads Brigg’s account of the war and becomes enthralled by the mysterious object he is searching for, not realizing he will soon become more familiar with the very same object, and not by accident. The astronaut begins to feel the connection to the civil war soldier, and this is where the objective of the whole narrative as a circular storytelling mechanism comes into full view.

Every now and then we get videos of people back home, just seemingly random people talking about life in general, and love being a constant theme. There are also snippets of clues and information littered throughout. War is a constant theme, an Ark (Noah’s, or Aliens?) is mentioned as the object that links the stories, and all the way through the film I was trying to work out what was real and what wasn’t. The ending was very open for interpretation and offers more clues and theories than answers, and whilst some times that frustrates me, in this case it just worked. Even with my limited knowledge of sci-fi, I know that existential science fiction is meant to be mostly questions. That being said I still went back and watched it again to try and catch bits I missed or look for more solutions. There aren’t many films I can watch back to back.

Visually as I mentioned earlier, Love is aesthetically beautiful. The war scenes look very realistic, the space station looks great and you couldn’t tell it was made for next to nothing. The highlights for me were awe-inspiring views of the mountains and the final slow-mo shot of Earth. It genuinely gave me goosebumps at times, looking at something so spectacular and the music was perfectly done. The director has truly made an epic film.

Love won a whole host of awards throughout the festival circuit, for best director and best soundtrack so I’m hoping some of these facts help appease those who think I’m being too biased!

After the film finished (2nd time round!) I went to research Carl Sagan and The Pale Blue Dot. I know I’m massively running the risk of boring people (if anyone has read this far) but I just briefly wanted to add the photo and explanation that served as an inspiration for the film. I found it fascinating and I hope some one else as uneducated as me on these aspects will too.

Seen from about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles), Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space.

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. – Carl Sagan

Please see Love if you ever get the chance. It truly is a work of art and a brilliant piece of cinema. I’m not claiming it is perfect but films like this that are made on a budget with unique stories are criminally overlooked in favour of remakes and sequels. This is my way of attempting to make a minuscule contribution to change that if even one person goes out of their way to see this. It came out in some parts of Europe in April, and will be on Blu Ray/DVD later this year. It also came free with the album but I’m guessing I might have been one of the only ones who bought that! Thanks for reading.


26 thoughts on “Reviews by Tyson: Love (2011)

  1. Pingback: Reviews by Tyson: Love (2011) | Head In A Vice

    • The film came with the special edition of the album. I had to import it (as im in the UK) but it was easier to locate in the US I’m guessing. Will get a worldwide blu ray release very soon though, so I hope you manage to catch it!

  2. Wow. I have GOT to see this movie, now. Right up my alley along with 2001, Dark Star, Moon and Sunshine. Thanks, Tyson and great write up!

    • Cheers Victor!! I am going to check out those films you mention as when researching for LOVE they were the ones that people compared it to. Not being a huge Sci-Fi fan I am very behind so need to rectify that!

      • Very cool. At times some of the better sci fi movies make you feel like you really aren’t watching a sci fi movie. If it has a great story, good portrayals and is intriguing then it transcends the genre a bit. Blade Runner is also like that.

      • Funny you mention Blade Runner. I’m working on a project with another blogger (in secret lol) reviewing it. Given my lack of knowledge of sci-fi I’m struggling to see where all the love for Blade Runner comes from! Its good, but…….ah you will see when my review goes up on my site 🙂

      • Blade Runner can mean different things to different people. It can actually be very polarizing. It’s hard to be ambivalent towards it. Can’t wait for your review. I’m sure you’ll knock it out of the park.

      • Thanks Victor! Although Im afraid I will be in the minority by not loving it, but we shall see! Should be up this weekend anyway, more of a joint collaboration so should be fun!

    • It did with the American release, so I hope you can track a copy down. I hope you like it when you do see it! I imagine on Blu Ray it will look even better than the version I saw, so I can’t wait for that.

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