R | 1h 46min | Drama, Sci-Fi | 17 May 2019 (USA)
Country: Sweden | Denmark | Language: Swedish | Opening theatrically and on iTunes on May 17 2019.
Synopsis: ANIARA is from first time feature directors Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja and stars Emelie Jonsson (Gentlemen & Gangsters, Gentlemen), Bianca Cruzeiro (The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) and Arvin Kananian (Maste gitt, Gasmamman).
ANIARA is a very ambitious first feature adapted from a 1956 epic poem by Swedish Nobel Laureate Harry Martinson. It follows the spacecraft Aniara as it makes its voyage transferring refugees from a ravaged Earth to their new home on Mars. Just hours into the journey the spaceship is knocked off course setting the passengers and crew alike into panic as they find themselves on a trip to nowhere.
Review: I enjoy the concept of films like ANIARA. The idea of being “lost in space” with no hope of reaching your destination. How would a society of people react? How would the mind come to terms with that much void and darkness? Would morality keep chaos at bay? All of this is explored in the new film based on the 1950’s Martinson poem.
Most of the story is told through the eyes of Mimaroben (Emelie Jonsson). Her job on the ship is to use and maintain a meditation chamber that allows people to tap into their fondest subconscious memories. Once the ship is taken of course she finds her self overran by passenger trying to find some measure of peace. She also has her own struggles of dealing with a delusional captain and trying to find her own love and companion ship.
Where the film truly shines is in the way it show the decay of any civilization over time. When the ship leaves earth it is a pristine and glorious vessel. Over time, as passengers realize their fate, it is less maintained and begins to look like the streets of any major city. In no subtle way the filmmakers are showing that humans are prone to destruction and the same way we are destroying our Earth home we will be irresponsible in any environment. We want comfort and our needs met with no regard to the elements around us. As years and decades past people begin forming subcells of society. Religious cults and other social groups begin forming. It is sad to see the reality of our own existence here on Earth and how we deal with problems and our own mortality.
Science Fiction fans will eat this up. Like any good sci-fi film it feels timeless. It is a 2019 film based on a poem from the 1950s that captures the genre perfectly. It could be set in any century with no tether to date or time. Also the soundtrack is perfect. It is intrusive and sets the viewer on edge. Using upper register notes and odd chord structures the sounds never allow you to forget that something is not right.
A few words of warning if needed. The film is Swedish with English subtitles. The fact that it is not an American film will add an intriguing element to American audiences. At the same time you have to be ok with subtitles. I for one love them but I know it is a big turn off for some. Also it is a slow film. This is not a bad thing as it helps add to the weightiness of floating in space. There is not a lot of action but more reaction to the dilemma. The drama is grounded and once it is over you feel like you have maybe survived something too. Which again to me is a positive thing.
ANIARA is rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, disturbing images, and drug use. It is an adult film not only in content but in the fact that younger viewers will be board out of their minds. The content is relevant to the subject matter though and important to the overall story. Just use discretion when choosing who you see it with.
Overall grade: B