Swedish SF Poem “Aniara” Adapted For Screen by Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja

    Theodore Sturgeon, reviewing “Aniara” in 1964 declared that “Martinson’s achievement is an inexpressible, immeasurable sadness. It transcends panic and terror and even despair and leaves you in the quiet immensities, with the feeling that you have spent time, and have been permanently tinted, by and with an impersonal larger-than-God force.”

    Aniara” is an upcoming SF Swedish film directed by Hugo Lilja and Pella Kågerman.

    It is based on Harry Martinson‘s SF epic poem “Aniara” from 1956.  It is scheduled to be premiere March 28, 2018. The Swedish actress Emelie Jonsson took the lead in the “Aniara” film. The producer is Annika Rogell and the film is made by the production company Meta Film Stockholm AB.

    Aniara” (Swedish: Aniara: en revy om människan i tid och rum/Aniara: A Revue About Man in Time and Space) is a science fiction poem written by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson in 1956.  It was published on 13 October 1956.

    The title comes from ancient Greek ἀνιαρός, “sad, despairing”, plus special resonances that the sound “a” had for Martinson.

    Aniara” is an effort to “mediate between science and poetry, between the wish to understand and the difficulty to comprehend.” Martinson translates scientific imagery into the poem: for example, the “curved space” from Einstein’s general theory of relativity is likely an inspiration for Martinson’s description of the cosmos as “a bowl of glass.” Martinson also said he was influenced by Paul Dirac.

    The poem consists of 103 cantos and relates the tragedy of a spacecraft (4,750 m (15,580 ft) long and 891 m (2,923 ft) wide) which, originally bound for Mars with a cargo of colonists from the ravaged Earth, after an accident is ejected from the Solar System and into an existential struggle. The style is symbolic, sweeping and innovative for its time, with creative use of neologisms to suggest the science fictional setting.

    An opera by Karl-Birger Blomdahl also called “Aniara” premiered in 1959 with a libretto by Erik Lindegren based on Martinson’s poem; it was also staged in Hamburg, Brussels and Darmstadt.

    Aniara” is an opera in two acts by Karl-Birger Blomdahl, with a libretto by Erik Lindegren based on the poem “Aniara” by Harry Martinson, that was premiered on 31 May 1959. The opera was described by the composer with the ambiguous phrase “en revy om människan i tid och rum: A Revue About Man in Time and Space”.

    The Swedish musician Kleerup released an album based on “Aniara” in 2012.

    A melding of “Aniara” and Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio” was staged by the Opéra de Lyon under the direction of American artist Gary Hill in 2013.

    The Swedish progressive metal band Seventh Wonder‘s 2010 album “The Great Escape” (Seventh Wonder album) contains a 30-minute track of the same name which is based on the “Aniara” saga.

    The poem was referenced in Vernor Vinge’s hard science fiction novel “A Fire Upon the Deep”. It was also an influence for Poul Anderson’s hard science fiction novel “Tau Zero”.

    The song “On aika soittaa sinfonia” (“It’s time to play a symphony”) on the Finnish rock musician Tuomari Nurmio’s critically acclaimed 1982 album “Punainen Planeetta” (The Red Planet) is inspired by the poem.

    “Aniara” was translated into English as “Aniara, A Review of Man in Time and Space” by Hugh MacDiarmid and E. Harley Schubert in 1956. It was translated again into English by Stephen Klass and Leif Sjöberg for a 1999 edition. The book is not currently in print.

    “Aniara” (2018)
    100 min | Drama, Sci-Fi | Post-production
    “Aniara is the story of one of the many spaceships used for transporting Earth’s population to their new home-planet Mars. But just as Aniara leaves the ruined Earth, she collides with an asteroid and is knocked off her course. Aniara’s passengers slowly realize that they’ll never be able to return; they will continue onwards through an empty and cold universe forever.”

    The Swedish Nobel prize winner Harry Martinsson wrote “Aniara” in 1956. The novel has been translated into a number of different languages, including danish, finnish, english, russian, czech, arabic, japanese and most recently chinese.

    It has been staged as opera and several theatrical productions, but has never before been filmed.

    In “Aniara”‘s inexorable journey towards destruction there is a warning that cannot be emphasized enough. There’s only one Earth. We have only one life. So, we have to take responsibility for our actions and constantly guard our environment and our humanity. If we don’t, Earth will soon be a paradise lost.

    Directors: Pella Kågerman, Hugo Lilja | Stars: Arvin Kananian, Emelie Jonsson


    Latest articles

    Related articles