In a future that’s as bleak as ours looks today, an Earth to space elevator leaves, bound for the spaceship Aniara, hovering above the planet.
The ship is huge and is ready to take its cargo, the humans fleeing an Earth of destruction and death, to Mars, for a new life. The journey will take just a 23 days, 7 hours and 25 minutes at a speed of 64 kilometres per second.
The air on board is from extensive algae farms, the algae is also edible, and there’s 21 restaurants, a spa and tanning salon. It’s a giant cruise ship, in space. The captain, Chefone, Arvin Kananian (“Spring Tide (TV)”, “The Unthinkable”), informs us that all communication systems down until they reach their destination.
We’re following Mimaroben, Emelie Jonsson (“Gentlemen & Gangsters (TV)”, “Call Girl”), who works on board the ship in the Mima. This is a room that people enter, and an AI-type device reads the minds and conscious of those that enter, presenting them with beautiful, pretty and calming pictures in their mind. Pictures of Earth, soothing and lovely.
At first, hardly anyone bothers with this, just a few give it a go. But not long after Aniara sets course for Mars there’s a disaster. To avoid some space debris they manoeuvre the great hulking ship right into the path of a floating bolt.
This bolt penetrates the hull with disastrous consequences, namely, it hits right where the power source is for the rockets and the captain has no choice but to eject it from the ship, save it blow and kill everyone on board.
This leaves Aniara adrift, no power for the engines, unable to steer in anyway and massively off course. The captain says not to worry, they will slingshot around the next celestial body, about two years or so, no problem.
But The Astronomer, Anneli Martini (“2060”, “Wallander (TV)”), who Mimaroben shares a room with, knows differently. She knows there are no celestial bodies to slingshot around, she knows they’re stuck.
Writers and directors Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja (“The Swedish Support (Short)”, “The Unliving (Short)”) take us on a trip with Aniara, a trip that’s as crazy as it is full of messages, and not happy ones at that.
Aniara sets up a bleak future, but one that’s probably more realistic than most films. It borrows heavily from the sci-fi genre but is also heavy in messages about our wanton destruction of the planet we live on, our strange behaviour (cults begin to arise as the years pass by) and so much more.
Swedish Nobel prize winner Harry Martinnson wrote Aniara in 1956 but this is the first film adaptation, which is hard to believe. Being Swedish, and yes, I’m fully aware this is a sweeping generalisation, it has some batsh*t crazy moments.
It’s reminiscent of The Square, or even Clockwork Orange at times in its absolute bizarreness. Equally, being Swedish, there’s lots of nudity, just pointing that out.
Bianca Cruzeiro (“The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared”, “Comedians (Short)”), plays the love interest of Mimaroben. This part of the story is setup almost from the first scene but is the most obvious of everything that’s occurring.
Aniara isn’t an easy film to pinpoint. I think you are either going to love it or hate it. It has some strong, worthy messages that we should be listening to, but then it can’t seem to resist going mental for a few minutes either. Perhaps echoing humanity itself.
30th August 2019
THE QUICK SELL
A spaceship carrying settlers to Mars is knocked off course, causing the consumption-obsessed passengers to consider their place in the universe.