Living in an earth bubble during these COVID-19 times reminds me of a few lost in space stories. Below are four videos to make you feel a little claustrophobic and appreciative of planet earth while waiting in your home boxes for the vaccine.
1st the Swedish movie Aniara (2018), directed by Hugo Lilja and Pella Kagerman, based on a poem by Harry Martinson, takes us on a space trip to Mars. Unexpectedly, space debris pushes the ship off track, and years pass with everyone surviving on algae. Initially, it seems okay as the people seek time with the special AI machine named Mima. Mima provides a full-body immersion into one's happy memories on Earth, but then the machine breaks. Everyone mourns the machine. It seems the human way of life is changing for the worse, but people still have a stocked bar, techno dance club, and cocktail parties with the Captain. Eventually, a cult forms, which does provide some escapism with orgies, babies, and a new sense of meaning. However, years pass, and things don't get better. Throughout the movie, we see an array of human behavior on display from capitalistic tendencies to human's capability for violence, love, depression, education, fun, survival, blind faith, and all sorts of emotions and actions when pushed into difficult situations.
Image 1: Aniara: cult on baggage cart plan to canonize Mima
Image 2: Aniara: Mima, AI machine mourned
2nd HBO tv series, Avenue 5 (2020), created by Armando Iannucci, is a humorous satire of a space ship cruiser knocked off course. It shows a funny version of how humans might react when abandoned in space. People are angry, but life goes on, and they solve their problems in funny ways. For example, after the actual Captain dies in space, they shoot him off in a gold casket. Then his casket is caught in the ship's gravitational pull, so he and other funeral crates circle them repeatedly, showing up in the windows at odd times. In another situation, a poop halo forms when excrement, said to act as a radiation shield, begins leaking. Eventually, the poop halo is lit up as a multicolored shimmer with a Pope John Paul II sighting in it. An excellent example of a pareidolia (random image becoming something significant - a phenomenon). Also, there's a moment of food scarcity when the waiter says there is only one tiramisu left, but other than that, it seems lobster and elaborate cakes are still available.
Image 3: Avenue 5 gravity problems
Image 4/5: Avenue 5 flying coffins and flying body parts
Image 6: Avenue 5 Poop halo and Pope
3rd An American movie, Passengers (2016), directed by Morten Tyldum is an idealized version of living on a space ship with a few things going wrong. In this story, thousands make the journey to colonize a distant planet. Unfortunately, to make the journey, you must sleep hibernate, and this one guy wakes up too early. Now what to do? At this point, it kind of reminds me of that childhood dream of wanting to be trapped in a mall after it closes. For the guy in the movie, well, he woke up to an empty ship. He takes advantage of all the amenities since no one is around. He lives in the best suite, plays with all the toys, yet still can't get a good coffee. The food/drink machine says, "Sorry, the mocha cappuccino extreme is reserved for Gold Class Passengers, sorry, sorry… large coffee" so there is corporate-driven class status even in dreamland for this passenger.
What we have in this story is a little love, adventure, and a robotic bartender who makes everyone feel good. It wasn't a movie I want to see again and again, but it's light entertainment for now. Possibly, a good one for COVID-19 isolation since it's less depressing than the others.
Image 7: Passengers coffee and breakfast
4th Nightflyers (2018) tv series based on George R.R. Martin is a suspenseful journey into space to investigate an alien signal. I'm focusing on the S1:E6 "The Sacred Gift" where they find what appears as an abandoned ship full of women. This episode fits the lost in space motif. These women have drifted with no contact for a decade. They were scientists and developed a cloning process for a constant food source. We eventually learn they are now a cult with a kind of ejaculation torture for men. They use men's seeds (sperm) to grow their clone food. So we have a little cult, cannibalism, and torture. Not much good there for humanity. This is an example of isolation on a space ship gone very wrong.
Image 8/9: Nightflyers food source
Learned lessons for when stuck on a space ship
And expect some unexpected sex moments, maybe with a cult or just a crazed scientist on the space ship. I guess that crazed scientist scenario would apply more to the High Life (2018) movie directed by Claire Denis. I didn't mention it cause that is literally a story about prisoners sent to live on a space ship versus paying customers accidentally becoming prisoners in space. Probably no difference in the end.
I'm feeling this COVID-19 isolation isn't half as bad as being trapped on a ship in outer space. I feel a bit cheered up now—good old Schadenfreude.
Tiff Graham (TiGra) experimenting with ideas