ANIARA (film 2018/2019)

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ANIARA. Pella Kagerman (as Pella Kågerman), Hugo Lilja, directors, script, co-producers — script from the Harry Martison poem, q.v. Sweden, Denmark: Meta Film Stockholm, Meta Film, Viaplay (co-production) / Magnolia Pictures, USA distribution, 2018/2019. See IMDb for details of distribution.[1] Linnéa Pettersson and Maja-Stina Åsberg, production design. In Swedish, Spanish, and English.[2] Note that there is also an ANIARA television musical production from 1960, in Swedish, directed by Arne Arnborn, libretto by Erik Lindegren.[3]

From the on-line review on IMDb by nikspitz

Aniara is based on a science fiction poem of the same name, written by the Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson. The title comes from ancient Greek meaning "sad, despairing," but the film celebrates beauty, melancholy, science and art in its own unique ways.
Refreshingly non formulaic in its treatment of a population of people cast together on an open ended journey into deep space.

nikspitz adds a quotation from the Gutenberg site (under "Structure and Content") which we'll quote directly from the Gutenberg introduction.[4]

One of the major themes explored is the nature and necessity of art, symbolised by the semi-mystical machinery of the Mima, who relieves the ennui of crew and passengers with scenes of far-off times and places, and whose operator is also the sometimes naïve main narrator. The rooms of Mima, according to Martinson, represent different kinds of life styles or forms of consciousness.

See Wikipedia entry for adequate plot summary.[5]


Note Mima as a variation on the theme of a Holodeck,[6] but with the users seen lying on the floor, with our seeing on occasion their visions, many of which are scenes of nature back on Earth, and with the "Mimaroben" character who manages the facility able to use a hand-held device to get glimpses of what her clients are seeing. We see then mental images of nature, inside the heads of humans in a large room that is a "semi-mystical" machine inside the huge spaceship Aniara.

Note also the Aniara itself: a "ship of fools" on a vast scale, for a reductio ad finem of tour vessels in the early 21st century and a kind of space-flying city. The rooms of the crew can be narrow and confining, but much of the ship shows the large spaces of a luxury hotel, but still, as the plot works out, a prison. The Aniara could also be seen as an inadvertent generation starship,[7] where things go badly.

Reviewed by Daniel Helsing, SFRA Review #330 (Fall 2019): pp. 197-99, who has a significant take on "the Mima."[8]

The plot centers around the lives of the passengers as they adjust to life onboard Aniara. The protagonist [...] is the nameless “Mimarobe.” She is in charge of the “Mima,” a kind of AI system that is able to induce vivid images and the sensation of being back on Earth by tapping into people’s memories. Eventually, however, the cruelty of humanity overwhelms the Mima: she (the Mima is gendered) self-destructs. Rather than evoking the ruthless logic of the AI system Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the Mima functions as a kind of conscience whose self-destruction marks the moral bankruptcy of humanity and the over-abundance of suffering caused by humans. (Helsing. p. 197)

RDE, finishing, 28Sep19, with thanks to IC-R / 26Nov19; 20Oct21