Aniara is a Swedish-Danish film from 2018 (based on a poem written in 1956) about the passengers of the space ship Aniara, which leaves behind a doomed Earth and heads for Mars.
The Aniara collides with space debris early in its voyage, losing all its fuel and getting knocked off course. A simple three week trip into a…well, a lot longer than that.
As time passes, the passengers start losing more and more of their amenities; the food runs out early on and everyone has to subsist on algae. The Mima, an artificial intelligence that lets people get visions of nature (sort of like a mental holodeck), “dies” from overuse.
Sanity starts slipping among the passengers – depression and a vast number of suicides follow. Oh, and now there’s a cult where people get together to have orgies.
But wait, there’s hope! The Aniara crew find what appears to be a probe with fuel they can take and get back on course to Mars.
They get the probe but it turns out it’s not what they think it is. In fact, they have no idea what it is and can’t do anything with it. Never mind. No hope. Everyone dies, the end.
When I started this, I figured it was going to be The Poseidon Adventure in space, not something nihilistic and bleak along the lines of a dreary dystopian film. It’s like a constant punch in the stomach. It’s a film that loves to tease you with nice things and then takes them all away. But it’s this harshness that makes it so memorable.
The main actress, who plays a member of Aniara’s crew, does a good job of portraying a character who struggles to do her best to keep morale high as the unending hardships gradually chip away at her. By the end of the film, after suffering an immense loss, we see her become a shell of her former self and it’s just plain sad.
I’m glad I watched this, and it’s a well done film with an environmental message I appreciate. It certainly stuck with me for days afterward, but I wouldn’t want to see it again.