It's probably safe to assume that if you're reading Movies.com, you're the kind of person who has seen Gravity by now. But if not, know that the below contains important spoilers about the film, and its companion short film Aningaaq, which actually shows something Gravity only talked about.
You've been warned.
One of the most memorable scenes in Alfonso Cuarón's film involves Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) sitting in the Russian Soyuz space capsule, on the verge of failure and oh so close to giving in to her doomed fate in space. She tries to contact Houston using the radio, but she only manages to make contact with someone on Earth who doesn't speak English. The two try to talk to one another, but technology and distance fails them. Instead Stone enjoys the howls of the man's dogs, as well as the sound of his newborn baby crying. It's a wonderful moment; one final, bittersweet dose of human contact before the end.
It turns out the man Stone speaks to on the radio is named Aningaaq, and he has own short film written by Gravity cowriter Jonas Cuarón (Alfonso's son). It's screened at a few film festivals, and so we'll let the official description from Venice cover what it's about:
Aningaaq, an Inuit fisherman camping on the ice over a frozen fjord, talks through a two way radio with a dying astronaut who is stranded in space, 500 kilometers above Earth. Even though he doesn’t speak English and she doesn’t speak Greenlandic, they manage to have a conversation about dogs, babies, life and death.
At no point while watching Gravity did it feel like we needed to actually see Aningaaq's story, and it absolutely would have destroyed the moment had Alfonso Cuarón shown his side of the conversation, but as its own short film, it sounds like a brilliant piece of companion filmmaking. Writer Neil Young has a rather eloquent review of the short film, and he elaborates on how the bit with the dog has a much more powerful meaning now that he knows what the fisherman was trying to tell the stranger on the radio.
The story then pivots on the plight of the fisherman’s elderly female husky, an unnamed stalwart who is ailing and fading fast. “There’s nothing I can do but sacrifice her,” explains the garrulous Aningaaq to an uncomprehending Stone, rattling on in blithe disregard to the language-barrier (while the pack of huskies look calmly on).
The fate of the dog has evidently been weighing on Aningaaq’s mind for some time, and it’s the fleeting communion with Stone which propels him towards decisive action. After the radio connection has been broken, and Aningaaq’s wife and baby have joined him at the fishing-hole, the camera pans up to the pale blue of the Arctic sky. Thin white streaks resembling shooting stars slice the firmament – recognisable to Gravity viewers as a Chinese spaceship, with Stone its terrified passenger, entering the atmosphere. At this point a single gunshot is heard, wrapping proceedings on a full-stop note of poignant but unsentimental economy.
(Aningaaq, by the way, makes it appear that the dog is euthanised only a few seconds after the conversation ends – but Gravity clarifies the situation, as several minutes elapse between the chat and the entrance of the spaceship fragments into the atmosphere.)
Unfortunately at this point there's no way for most people to see Aningaaq, so we'll just have to wait for when Warner Bros. includes it on the Gravity Blu-ray, which they've confirmed. Because now that we know it's out there, we absolutely must see it.
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