Aniara (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Pella Kågerman
  • Hugo Lilja
Screenplay by
  • Pella Kågerman
  • Hugo Lilja
Based onAniara
by Harry Martinson
Produced byAnnika Rogell
StarringEmelie Jonsson
CinematographySophie Winqvist
Edited by
Music byAlexander Berg
  • Meta Film Stockholm
  • Unbranded Pictures
  • Viaplay
  • Film Capital Stockholm Fond
  • Gotlands Filmfond
  • Ljud & Bildmedia
Distributed bySF Studios (Sweden)
Release dates
  • 7 September 2018 (2018-09-07) (TIFF)
  • 1 February 2019 (2019-02-01) (Sweden)
Running time
106 minutes
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
Budget€1.95 million[1]
Box officeUS$40,124[2]

Aniara is a 2018 Swedish-Danish science fiction film written and directed by Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja. The film is an adaptation of the 1956 Swedish epic poem of the same name by Harry Martinson. The film is set in a dystopian future where climate change ravages Earth, prompting mass migration from Earth to Mars. When one such routine trip veers off course, the passengers of the Aniara struggle to cope with their new lives.

The film premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and was given a theatrical release in 2019 by Magnolia Pictures.[3]


Sometime in the future, Earth has been ravaged by pollution, natural disasters and rising sea-levels, making it largely uninhabitable. A woman (Emelie Garbers) works on board the Aniara, a luxurious spaceship that takes passengers from Earth to Mars in three weeks. Her job involves working as a "Mimarobe" within the Mima, an artificial intelligence designed to evoke the viewers' experiences of Earth's lush, verdant past through a totally immersive virtual-reality experience that taps into the participants' memories and emotions.

In the first week of the Aniara's voyage, the ship suddenly veers off course to avoid a collision with space debris. Some of the debris pierces the hull and hits the ship's nuclear reactor, setting off an imminent meltdown and forcing the crew to eject all of the ship's fuel. This results in the ship having no navigational control, no propulsion, and thus no ability to resume its original course. Captain Chefone promises the passengers and crew that they will be able to resume the trip to Mars once the ship passes a celestial body, which should happen in no more than two years. The Mimarobe's roommate, the ship's astronomer, later reveals to her that this is a lie and that there is no possibility of resuming their course.

Soon, the Mimarobe finds her usually unimportant job becoming more popular and necessary than ever, as passengers use the Mima as an escape from their current situation. After three years, the Mima becomes one of the most important functions necessary to keep calm on board the ship. With so many people bringing their horrific memories of Earth's destruction to the Mima, it becomes overwhelmed and self-destructs, committing suicide. Though the Mimarobe had asked the captain for a month of rest for the Mima, she is blamed for the machine's malfunction and is imprisoned.

By the fourth year, mass suicides and developing cults lead the Mimarobe and Isagel, a former pilot and the Mimarobe's lover, to be granted release and reassigned to work. They join a fertility cult dedicated to the Mima, and soon Isagel becomes pregnant after an orgy. She suffers from depression during her pregnancy and is tempted to end the child's life after it is born. The Mimarobe wants to build a "beam-screen", a projection device acting as a mimic of Mima to alleviate Isagel and the other passengers depression, but Captain Chefone forbids her from doing so. He instead orders her to focus on educating children, in hopes that one or more of them may discover a way to return them to Mars.

In the fifth year, Isagel and the astronomer discover that a probe large enough to feasibly contain fuel is travelling towards the Aniara, meaning that a rescue is possibly being attempted. The probe takes over a year to reach the ship, and upon being brought onto the ship in the sixth year, the crew quickly realize that they are unable to identify it, its origins or whether it contains fuel. The captain orders the crew to keep working on the probe, but they eventually lose hope of it being a means of rescue. The Astronomer laments that their ship is a sarcophagus, defying Captain Chefone's orders for the crew to keep a united front to prevent the passengers from losing hope. In a fit of rage, Captain Chefone shoots a taser at the Astronomer, killing her.

The Mimarobe begins work on her projection device, eventually succeeding in projecting a waterfall onto the dark windows of the spaceship. Having succeeded, she later discovers that Isagel has committed suicide and killed the child they were raising together. Four years later, the few remaining crew celebrates the 10th anniversary of their voyage into space. While listlessly accepting an honorary medal from Captain Chefone for her creation of the beam-screen, the Mimarobe notices that his wrists are bandaged from a presumed suicide attempt. The algae tanks the passengers rely on for food and water have become contaminated.

In year 24 of the voyage, the Mimarobe and a few remaining survivors sit cross-legged in a dimly lit room. An unidentified woman in the group rhapsodizes about the divine power of sunlight on Earth, as the ship slowly descends into final darkness.

Finally, in year 5981407 of its voyage, the Aniara – derelict, frozen and devoid of human life – reaches the Lyra constellation and approaches a planet as verdant and welcoming as Earth was formerly.



Aniara received generally favorable reviews. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes it holds a score of 71% based on 51 reviews, with an average score of 7/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Dazzling, but a little dull, ANIARA's impeccable production design is undermined by its underwhelming philosophical pondering."[4] On Metacritic it holds a score of 61% based on 16 critics.[5]

Norman Wilner at NOW Toronto says that the film "embraces the existential possibilities of sci-fi cinema".[6] The Guardian, in two reviews, gave the film four stars, calling it a "stunning sci-fi eco parable" and an "eerily mesmerising outer-space odyssey" respectively. Flickering Myth characterizes Jonsson's Mimarobe as "complex and sensitive".[7] Teo Bugbee at The New York Times characterized Aniara as "depressing", but also said that "the commitment to bleakness feels artistically admirable".[8] Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, said: "But while the themes are clear, drama is perilously missing."[9]

Aniara won the "Asteroid" Prize for Best International Film at the 2019 Trieste Science+Fiction Festival.[10]

The film took home four awards at the 2020 Swedish Guldbagge awards ceremony, including Best Actress in a leading role and Best Supporting Actress to Emelie Garbers (née Jonsson[11]) and Bianca Cruzeiro respectively.[12]


  1. ^ "Scandinavian Debut – Aniara" (PDF). New Nordic Films. Norwegian International Film Festival. p. 92. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2021. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Aniara". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  3. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (10 September 2018). "Magnolia Pictures Lands Swedish Sci-Fi Thriller 'Aniara' – Toronto". Deadline. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Aniara". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Aniara". Metacritic. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. ^ Wilner, Norman (14 May 2019). "Review: Aniara embraces the existential possibilities of sci-fi cinema". NOW Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Movie Review - Aniara (2018)". Flickering Myth. 30 August 2019.
  8. ^ Bugbee, Teo (16 May 2019). "'Aniara' Review: A One-Way Ticket Into the Abyss". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "'ANIARA': Film Review | TIFF 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 September 2018.
  10. ^ "2019 Trieste Science+Fiction Festival".
  11. ^ "Emelie Garbers". Archived from the original on 23 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Alla vinnare på Guldbaggegalan 2020". Guldbaggen 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2021.

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