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Emoji Major No. 9: “Gravity” Opens (Emoji In Space)

This week, Zoe Mendelson sends her emoji on a $55.6 million space mission–to boldly go where Sandra Bullock spent a lot of time panting.

Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity premiered last weekend, pulling in $55.55 million, an industry record for October opening box office.

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I should say right away that this is not my kind of movie in a million light years. I get motion sickness just from watching cars drive, action sequences make me way anxious, every 3-D blockbuster I’ve ever seen (all two) has given me a severe headache, and I have an especially weak stomach for Sandra Bullock.

My $16 contribution to the force of Gravity was motivated by one thing: I wanted, hoped more than anything to use this emoji image, which is stolen from a boy who tried to emoji-woo me (it worked). Spaceship Earth, isolated in a shiny black universe of nothing else:


I thought it was elegant, minimalist brilliance, a single scene packed with all the weighty significance it turns out I did not end up finding in 91 minutes of the actual movie.

It just fit so perfectly.

In fact, this image is the first five minutes of the movie, as well as the b-roll scene they constantly cut to. No complaint there, the shot is captivating. It’s basically either this–the deep blackness of space and the looming Earth–or the Bullock character’s booty short-clad athletic thighs.

The simplest visual motifs on a loop, paired with maybe the most weightless plot in the universe, made easy emojification work of the movie: space, Earth, spaceship, satellite, radio, explosion, fire, fire, fire, fire, omg face, omg face, omg face, space, Earth, next spaceship, repeat. It got to the point where every time something else went wrong, people in the theater were laughing. (Though this is probably also a sign that Brooklyn has become way too snarky.)

My friend and I left the theater speechless. The movie is bizarre, with a serious lack of nuance–but it’s extremely cool to look at, so it’s not a total waste of space. It sounds good, too. And yes, I was utterly nauseous both because everything on screen is constantly spinning and because I had to watch Sandra Bullock panting a lot. That’s the one unifying element that I could not figure out how to portray in emoji; sorry about that, because it’s present in about 90% of the movie.

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If I’d been more true to the proportionate screen time of each image in the slideshow above, there would have been row after row of the brown-haired lady and the panic faces. But I wanted to make this post less repetitive than the movie was, and I already kind of used that joke in last week’s Emoji Major about Katy Perry’s Ro-o-oo-o-ooo-ar.

Also, good thing Gravity was simple enough that I could remember it, because this is what happens when you try to take notes in a movie theater:


Hope the re-enactment above is clearer. Know that I, too, have never wished for a fire extinguisher emoji more. To infinity and beyond!

ASK US FOR ADVICE: For next week’s Emoji Major I would like to attempt an advice column. Please send any life, love, work questions you might like answered in emoji to askemoji@fastcompany.com by FRI OCT 11. Note: One question I get a lot is if you can emoji a breakup. The answer is you can, it would just be shitty.


About the author

Zoe Mendelson is a mushroom salesperson in Brooklyn, NY. She writes a weekly map column for UntappedCities.

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