READ WITH CAUTION, SPOILERS FOR GRAVITY BELOW!
One of the key scenes in Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is when Dr. Ryan Stone is at the crossroads of life and death. Her last hope for salvation is aboard a Chinese shuttle, but with very little oxygen and without the ability to read Chinese, things are dire. Stone calls out for help, but finds she cannot communicate with the Earth below her. Before she decides to give up, Stone has a muddled conversation with a fisherman, who doesn’t speak English. In Gravity we only see the exchange from Stone’s point of view, but in Jonas Cuarón’s short film Aningaaq, the audience will finally get a chance to watch the complete scene unfold.
The seven-minute short is now available to watch online, courtesy of THR. Although Aningaaq isn’t as visually impressive as Gravity, the short film still conveys a sense of loneliness and isolation, much like its bigger sibling. According to THR, “The short was filmed ‘guerrilla style’ on location on a budget of about $100,000 — most of which went toward the 10-person crew’s travel costs — and Cuaron completed it in time to meld the dialogue into Gravity‘s final sound mix.”
The short stars Orto Ignatiussen as the titular character Aningaaq, an Inuit ice fisherman in Greenland that picks up a signal from space. Although he doesn’t understand the other voice on the line, he tries to comprehend while entertaining Stone with his son and dog. Here’s the official synopsis:
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.
The short screened during Gravity‘s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, but in front of the film We’re the Millers instead of its companion film. Jonas Cuarón directed and wrote the film. It seems like Alfonso Cuarón perhaps wanted to cut back-and-forth between Aningaaq and Dr. Ryan Stone originally, but in the final version of Gravity, Dr. Stone remains isolated and alone. Considering the nature of the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before some clever science fiction fan out there cuts these two scenes together.
When the Academy Award nominations are announced this January, it is believed that Jonas Cuarón’s Aningaaq might be nominated for Best Live-Action Short Film. It’s one of the frontrunners in the category, with Gravity gaining more and more Oscar consideration with every dollar earned in its impressive $535.7 million box office gross (so far). Gravity is also the frontrunner in the Best Female Actor in a Leading Role category with Sandra Bullock’s wonderful performance, Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki’s amazing photography, Best Original Screenplay for Alfonso and Jonas Cuarón, Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón, and, of course, Best Picture.
Warner Bros. will release the Aningaaq short film with the home video release of Gravity. While the space epic doesn’t have a street date for the Blu-ray/DVD, it will likely be released sometime in January 2014.