Short Film 'Aningaaq' Enhances Power of 'Gravity'


For a film with an elegantly simple plot, Gravity has a lot going on thematically. Alongside meditations on spirituality, faith and belief in a higher power, it explores the desperate and universal search for humanity -- for simple connection -- a desire that follows us even to the most remote and otherworldly places which people can reach. This is never more powerfully expressed than when Sandra Bullock's character Ryan Stone -- her chances of survival decreasing by the moment -- is finally able to get someone on the radio, only that someone happens to speak an entirely different language and is completely unable to offer her any help. It's a low point for her character, but a high point for the film.

Death is near, so near she can feel it. Yet she is still afraid.

"Nobody will mourn for me," she says. "Nobody will pray for my soul."

It's a haunting moment, one that feels completely isolated even though in reality it is not. There's another voice on the end of that radio, and as the short film above reveals, that person is Aningaaq, an Inuit in Greenland, who, though not completely alone like Stone, seems to yearn for the same kind of connection she does, albeit with a different sense of urgency.

The short film, titled Aningaaq and directed by Jonas Cuaron, director Alfonso Cuaron's son and the co-writer of Gravity, explains the howling dogs and the crying baby that Bullock hears hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth, in my view making the corresponding scene in Gravity that much more powerful.

The deep thinker in me sees this as the Cuarons' collective statement about the constant struggle to connect with your fellow man (and woman). Whether we're in space or Greenland or on a street corner with hundreds of other people in a major metropolis, we all just want to be understood. Sometimes, the best we can do together is to howl like a dog.

It never feels like enough.

(Aningaaq comes via The Hollywood Reporter.)