Aniara (film)

Aniara is a 2018 science fiction film written and directed by Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja. The film is an adaptation of the 1956 Swedish 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 such a routine trip veers off course the passengers of the Aniara struggle to cope with their new lives.

Aniara (2018) Film Poster.jpg
Directed byPella Kagerman
Hugo Lilja
Produced byAnnika Rogell
Screenplay byPella Kagerman
Hugo Lilja
Based onAniara
by Harry Martinson
Release date
  • 7 September 2018 (2018-09-07) (TIFF)
Running time
106 minutes

The film premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and was given a theatrical release in 2019 by Magnolia Pictures.[1]


A woman (Emelie Jonsson) 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, a machine designed to evoke viewers' experiences of Earth's lush, verdant past in a way that is indistinguishable from reality.

In the first week of Aniara's voyage the ship suddenly veers off course after a collision with space debris. The maneuver means that the Aniara loses its fuel, though the captain promises the passengers and crew they will be able to turn around 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.

On board, the Mimarobe finds her usually unimportant job becoming more popular and necessary than ever as passengers crave the Mima to soothe them from claustrophobia and panic attacks. 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. Though the Mimarobe had asked the captain for a month of rest for the Mima she is blamed for the machine's malfunction and imprisoned.

By the fourth year, cults have developed and suicides lead the Mimarobe and Isagel, a former pilot who is now the Mimarobe's lover, to be granted releases and reassigned to work. The Mimarobe and Isagel join a fertility cult dedicated to Mima which leaves Isagel 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's depression, while the Captain forbids her from doing so and orders her to focus on educating children in the hopes that one or more of them might be able to discover a way to return them to Mars.

In the fifth year, the ship's astronomer and Isagel discover that a probe large enough to possibly contain fuel is travelling towards the Aniara, meaning that a rescue is possibly being attempted. The probe takes over a year to reach the Aniara 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 if it contains fuel. While the captain orders the crew to keep working on the probe they eventually lose hope of it being a means of rescue. The Astronomer laments that their ship is a sarcophagus, defying the captain's orders for the crew to keep a united front to prevent the passengers from losing hope.[2] In a fit of rage, the Captain shoots and kills the Astronomer.

The Mimarobe begins work on her projection device, eventually succeeding in projecting a waterfall onto the dark windows of the spaceship. Having succeeded she learns that Isagel has committed suicide and has also killed the child they were raising together, believing there is no future for them on board the spacecraft. Five years later, the remaining crew celebrate the 10th anniversary of their voyage into space. While listlessly accepting an honorary medal from the ship's captain for her creation of the beam-screen, the Mimarobe notices that his wrists are bandaged. In year 24 of the voyage, as a dark and ostensibly powerless Aniara drifts through space, a small group of passengers sits cross-legged in a dimly lit room. As an unidentified woman in the group rhapsodizes about the divine power of sunlight on Earth, the Mimarobe blinks in weakened semi-consciousness.

Finally, in year 5,981,407 of its voyage, the Aniara, frozen and devoid of human life, reaches the Lyra constellation and what appears to be the star Vega. A planet, orbiting the star and as verdant and welcoming as Earth was formerly, begins pulling Aniara toward itself.[3]


  • Emelie Jonsson as the Mimarobe
  • Bianca Cruzeiro as Isagel
  • Arvin Kananian as the Captain
  • Anneli Martini as the Astronomer


Aniara received generally favorable reviews. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes it holds a score of 71% based on 45 reviews.[4] On Metacritic it holds a score of 61% based on 16 critics.[5]

Norman Wilner at NOW Toronto considers Aniara to "embrace[] the existential possibilities of sci-fi cinema".[2] 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".[6] Teo Bugbee at The New York Times characterized Aniara as "depressing", but also said "the commitment to bleakness feels artistically admirable."[7] Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, said "But while the themes are clear, drama is perilously missing."[8]

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[9]) and Bianca Cruzeiro, respectively.[10]


  1. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (10 September 2018). "Magnolia Pictures Lands Swedish Sci-Fi Thriller 'Aniara' – Toronto". Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b Wilner, Norman (14 May 2019). "Review: Aniara embraces the existential possibilities of sci-fi cinema". NOW Magazine.
  3. ^ Gibney, Elizabeth (29 August 2019). "Aniara : an angst-fuelled journey through the void". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02581-w – via
  4. ^ "ANIARA". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Aniara". Metacritic. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Movie Review - Aniara (2018)". Flickering Myth. 30 August 2019.
  7. ^ Bugbee, Teo (16 May 2019). "'Aniara' Review: A One-Way Ticket Into the Abyss". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "'ANIARA': Film Review | TIFF 2018". The Hollywood Reporter.
  9. ^
  10. ^ (in Swedish)

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