Aningaaq is a short companion piece to the award winning Gravity that was written and directed by Jonás Cuarón, son of Alfonso Cuarón. I should make it clear right away that this review will feature spoilers so if you haven’t seen Gravity then you may not wish to continue. Have you left? Good. Aningaaq is a seven minute short that shows a scene in Gravity from the reverse angle. Having given up aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) begins to receive a faint radio transmission. Initially believing it to originate from a Chinese Space Station, she soon realises it’s in fact coming from Earth. This film shows us the other side of the conversation the two people have; Stone, miles above Earth on the verge of death and Aningaaq, an Inuit fisherman on a frozen fjord.
Aningaaq begins with a long, slow panning shot which depicts the inhospitable icy surroundings in which the Inuit fisherman finds himself living. This connects beautifully with the story of Gravity in that both characters are separated from their species by many miles and life snatching surroundings. Both films share the same eerie silence, further promoting the idea of bleakness and exposure. Unlike the blackness of space though, Aningaaq is shown in a near white out, the exact opposite of Dr. Stone.
What I like about Aningaaq is exactly what it gives us. While I was watching Gravity, I thought to myself that I’d love to know where the guy on the other end of the radio is and what he’s doing. I was fascinated to know if the disasters in space were having any impact on Earth and Aningaaq both gives us an answer and yet teases us. It’s clear from this film that humanity would survive without its more recent technological advances. Whether there are satellites or not, Aningaaq and his family will carry on as normal. What the film doesn’t show us what’s happing in suburbia. What’s the fallout like for the rest of us? We can’t be sure. This provides scope for further examination in perhaps another film.
In just a few minutes we learn a lot about Aningaaq’s life and his character feels rounded despite his brief screen time. We learn about the reason behind the dog’s bark and where the child’s crying comes into the story. For a mere seven minute film, it gives a lot of information and builds a full picture. Aningaaq is played by the Norwegian actor Orto Ignatiussen who creates a kind and attentive character with humour and heart. Aningaaq is a clean and crisp film which is assuredly constructed and directed. It adds something life affirming to its feature companion and gives us a glimpse into the wider world of the story. It’s well worth seven minutes of your time and proves that Jonás Cuarón shows signs of the same film making prowess his father possesses.