There’s a deleted scene in the 1973 film The Exorcist where the two priests, exhausted from their battles with the demon possessing a young girl, try to understand why the Devil would choose an innocent as his battlefield. “I think the point is to make us despair,” says the older priest, played by Max Von Sydow. “To see ourselves as animal and ugly. To reject the possibility that God could love us.”
Obviously most of us will never find ourselves lost at sea or adrift in space, but movies aren’t made for the tiny or even non-existent minorities that will ever experience these calamities. Loss, isolation, the imminent threat, and fear of death – these are all things we can understand, however, and spectacles like All Is Lost and Gravity take us to where we can confront those terrors in the safety of a theatre seat or our living room couch. This might be the greatest gift films offer us.