Author Topic: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film  (Read 885 times)

Puce Moment

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Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« on: January 14, 2020, 01:01:54 PM »


I know that it was in festivals in 2018 (and won awards) but I think this officially got distributed and made its way to screens in 2019.

What can I say about this film other than I have watched it three times now? It's really up my street in terms of hard SF ideas mixed with Ballardian/Tarkovskian imagery, and makes some fascinating decisions regarding plot, visuals and use of sets. It is clearly low-budget - the 'space' scenes feel quite televisual, and the interior sets appear to be a real cruise ship, a shopping centre, lecture theatre etc.

So, I don't want to say too much about it as I went in cold and enjoyed it much more because of it. However, I can say that it based on a poem from the 1950s by a Swedish writer, although having now read that, the writers and director use it as a basic springboard. Basically, humans are leaving Earth for Mars due to environmental collapse, and get there on huge, luxurious-ish, ships, very similar to a luxury liner/cruise ship. The main character's job is to manage a Mima - a place where people go to meditate/visualise images from old Earth via a sentient AI machine.

Stuff goes to shit, and then what transpires is a highly believable SF story that shines a light on humanity. As I mentioned, the sets are so recognisable that it avoids the schlocky sets of many ship based SF narratives. There is a social realism element to the film which rubs up against the big SF ideas in a most interesting way.

Some of you will be disappointed by this film, but I found it much better than any other SF I've seen for ages. It's certainly better than High Life, which I also thought was really good.

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2020, 01:09:46 PM »
I rented this on amazon when it was a quid. I enjoyed it but I knew at the time I'd need to rewatch it, but d didn't have time. Good though. I also thought it felt ballardian.

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 07:47:14 PM »
I just downloaded it, no subs tho. Luckily I used to live in Copenhagen so can follow a bit, Danish is similar to Swedish.....

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Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 10:08:01 PM »
I watched this pretty recently and really couldn’t get with it. There were lots of interesting ideas floating around but I speak fluent Swedish and found the acting quite blandly irritating, TV serial level, and there was a soupy, somnambulent feel to it where the likes of Tarkovsky or Kubrick had much more grace, eeriness and power.

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2020, 04:34:41 AM »
will give this a look, right up my alley

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Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 06:01:55 AM »
My thoughts are at this failure of a 'thread' here: https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,75409.0.html


My second-favourite movie of last year, behind Rocketman and just ahead of the Tarantino.

I'm no big fan of the 'folk horror' craze, but didn't half enjoy seeing its cliches being played out in space.

Puce Moment

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Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2020, 01:25:37 PM »
I watched this pretty recently and really couldn’t get with it. There were lots of interesting ideas floating around but I speak fluent Swedish and found the acting quite blandly irritating, TV serial level, and there was a soupy, somnambulent feel to it where the likes of Tarkovsky or Kubrick had much more grace, eeriness and power.

That's always a difficulty when watching foreign language films - I hear that a great deal of the acting in Bergman films are shonky but luckily, most of us don't realise. I think it compares badly to Kubrick (although his films are filled with shitty acting) but I thought the SF ideas were really enjoyable and unusual. There are some really awful decisions that detract from the film a bit (the ship's captain Chefone's beard changes are dreadful) and as mentioned, the CGI is crap, but for some reason this flm really got under my skin.

Quote
Use of white-on-black title cards to show the passage of time - but with added significance - is every bit as effective as the way The Shining used the same idea (at my screening, the audience audibly gasped at one of the onscreen captions late on).

Yes, at first the '3 year' title card looks horrific and I kept remembering the woman who wanted to be with her son for his fourth birthday, imagining him growing older without her. Devestating. But the the final two title cards are gut punches.

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I won't say too much about the plot, as this needs to be discovered and allowed to unroll before you. Those who are as old as me will know exactly what I mean when I say that this is reminiscent of the type of fare that used to get sprung on us in BBC2's 'Film International' slot 40 years ago, and for me it will stick in the mind like the best of those Beeb Sunday night screenings did circa 1980.

It did have a curious 1970s uncanny tone I thought. Whilst the 'Cults' section does seem quite folk horror, I never really thought of that. I thought it was more Lord of the Flies or Ballard's High Rise, watching rational people lose their shit.

There are some really odd and unusual moments in this film - I feel tempted to list them all. I especially liked the idea that the ship was split into sections, and that there were social events, and people still working as waitresses etc. This to me is incredibly Ballardian. I also liked the Astronomer lady being a down and out drunk one minute, and the next discovering the 'spear' heading their way. The shot of her in bed drinking algae juice in a wine glass from a plastic container on the floor is so fucking dystopian.

Also the bit where Chefone does a promotional video about the spear, and pots a ball on a pool table at the start, is so weird and funny. I really loved these realistic moments, and the normality of the sets really adds to that.

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2020, 09:50:30 PM »
as i said in the other thread i stupidly bumped, saw this the other day and loved it. don’t know if i’ve ever encountered such profound despair in a film. having a hard time shaking the bleaker moments off too, I watched The Nightingale last week and have just about had my emotional fill of unfortunate children.

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2020, 02:33:04 PM »
...there was a soupy, somnambulent feel to it where the likes of Tarkovsky or Kubrick had much more grace, eeriness and power.

Well put.

I liked it, but as above some of the strings started to come undone as the plot developed and it didn't feel like there was much of a plan beyond the aging thing. 

I think High Life is a far superior film technically in just about every aspect, but the themes and realist logic in Aniara are more interesting and relatable. The trouble for me is that the second half/last third just seemed to ebb away, perhaps intentionally, and I thought the final scenes especially were a (very) cheap cop-out and left too little to the imagination.

If I could rewrite it then I would beef up the cast and introduce more mini-tales, more politics, more futurism (killing off MIMA so early was a critical error IMO - I mean, if they had future AI then they must've had backups or alternative technology). There was a nice 'show don't tell' feel to the plot but after a while you got sick of them recycling the same tiny cast - given the ship's ecosystem is supposed to be so fucking huge - and the increasingly larger time-jumps made you feel less and less concerned or connected to what was happening. Great in a novel where focus can swarm effortlessly but jarring on screen where the eye is always looking for contradiction.

Anyway, I did think it was very decent sci-fi for what it was and will likely watch it again. Some of the plot developments were modern and brave. It just seemed to fizzle out and I wanted more or to go deeper than surface level. 

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Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2020, 04:05:38 PM »
As I said before, I like High Life a great deal, but for some reason this film has really stayed with me. I do think the optimism turning to despair is well played out in Aniara, and I have to say that the final third is what really makes it a good film, at least for me. The scene where the main character gets the award, with the Captain (and his slit wrists) going on stage to the sound of a maudlin man doing minimalist eletronica, plus the weak applause, is one of my favourites.

Did anyone find the blind woman at the end speaking in an expressistic, disjointed way to be very similar to Mima? I know that this comes from the source poem, but I wondered if that was supposed to be ironic - a blind woman speaking about Earth like a "substitute for a substitute."

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2020, 05:19:10 PM »
Wasn't it the alcoholic astronomer lady who said that line about Emelie's projection device?

The ending is a whole 2 mintues long. I think I'd have preferred they left it open-ended and mysterious. The medal scene was fine but I was craving more scenes like that to hammer home the desolation. 

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Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2020, 05:24:05 PM »
Wasn't it the alcoholic astronomer lady who said that line about Emelie's projection device?

Yes, she did, but I thought it was pertinent as a phrase due to the way they were all sat around this woman holding court and talking mysteriously about Earth and the feel of sunlight on her skin. A shit substitute, but beggars can't be choosers. The only aspect of that scene I didn't like was the extent to which the main character hadn't aged much. She starts out the film looking to be something like 38-44 years old I would say, so in the penultimate scene she would be really quite old, and probably wouldn't have the same colour hair. I don't know why they didn't make her much older.

Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2020, 06:00:17 PM »
She starts out the film looking to be something like 38-44 years old I would say,

Which is unfortunate given Emelie Garbers is only 33.

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Re: Aniara (2019) Swedish SF Film
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2020, 06:23:02 PM »
Which is unfortunate given Emelie Garbers is only 33.

Sweden is harsh.

In any case, based on that age, she would be about 67 at the end of the film.

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