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PHOTOGRAPHY
ANIARA
Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 106 minutes, featurettes, design art gallery, theatrical trailer, previews
VIDEO: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition
AUDIO: Swedish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Dubbed 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment/ Magnet Releasing/ Meta Film Stockholm/ Unbranded Pictures
RELEASE DATE: 8-20-2019
ANIARA is an existential sci-fi film based on the poem (of the same name) by Harry Martinson. Climate change has left Earth ravaged and the human race begins to leave for a new home on Mars. The trip is supposed to take three weeks in this spaceship called Aniara which is one part cruise ship/ one part huge mall. Space debris has the ship make an emergency change to their course, but the nuclear reactor is damaged and they must eject the fuel. They're drifting farther off course where only another celestial body will enable the ship to right their course and get back to mars. The ship's crew says it will take two years, but the journey goes on for longer than that. Crew member MR (Emelie Jonsson) is in charge of a sentient computer called Mima that allows people to experience their peaceful memories of Earth. MR is first roommates with an astronomer and finds love with a female pilot. Cults start to pop up, trash begins to pile up in the corridors, and some people doubt they will ever reach Mars.

ANIARA is the type of movie for those who want a slow burn sci-fi film like SOLARIS or AD ASTRA. The reasons for why the ship can't get back on course or even call for help are flimsy, but the movie does provide an existential glimpse into life when a space cruise ship becomes like a space ark. I do wish we saw more of the cults and more character development on the various people and crew other than MR, Isagel, and the astronomer. ANIARA could have been an existential space drama about a generation trapped on a ship drifting into space instead of focusing mostly from one person's point of view. It is an interesting reflection on the journey of life from how helpless we can feel to how various factors can lead to depression, suicide, and hope. This is a low budget sci-fi film, but the low tech approach to the set design lends a timeless look to the ship. Their encounter with a probe offers some hope of rescue, but the mystery of the probe is never solved. It brings up more questions that are never reflected back on later in the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
There are three brief featurettes on Visual Effects, Production Design, and Sound Design which give a glimpse into the making of this film. There is also a conceptual design/ Art gallery and a theatrical trailer in addition to preview for other recent releases from Magnolia including HIGH POWER and THE QUAKE

FINAL ANALYSIS: ANIARA is an interesting slow existential sci-fi film which should have had more plausible science behind the ship and more focus on how the long journey is affecting various people over the years. The journey only gives glimpses on how it affects the passengers and crew, but it never gives enough character development to make it an epic slow burn drama.

This review is (c) 10-10-2019 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com and check for further content at http://enterlinemedia.tumblr.com