For a film to be at its best, right from the earliest stages of script development you have to be willing to cull those ideas which either don't advance the narrative or break the dramatic tension you've worked so hard to build over the proceeding pages. Sometimes this can mean jettisoning a scene which perfectly encompasses the themes of your larger narrative as was the case in the early stages of Alfonso & Jonás Cuarón's work on the epic space survival feature Gravity. Fortunately for us, Jonás Cuarón was able to convince Warner Home Video to fund a short called Aningaaq which gave life to the Earth side of Sandra Bullock's desperate, lost in translation SOS radio contact and has now made its way online.
With his existence out in one of the most inhospitable, desolate places on the planet and only his dogs, wife and young child for company, the Inuit fisherman Aningaaq, played by Orto Ignatiussen, is a kindred spirit to Bullock's Ryan Stone; connected by fragile radio waves and similarly weighed down by the (impending) death of a loved one. According to a post by HitFix, in order to capture the story, Jonás Cuarón and his 10 person crew had to subject themselves to some of the same hardships as the fictional fisherman, with the majority of their reportedly $100,000 budget going towards travel costs:
"One of the ideas I had was to get everything there [in Greenland]. So it took me two weeks to go look for the wardrobe, the tent, the sled, the dogs, and to even do some research. So I was traveling with this sled for like two weeks through the region in Greenland, and during that trip, I noticed a very beautiful relationship that the Inuits have with the dogs."
It seems that the recent inclusion of Aningaaq as a contender for Oscar consideration in the Best Live Action Short Film category was the prompting Warner's needed to give the film a life outside of its small festival run and the coming Gravity Blu-ray extras. It also has the record-breaking potential of being the first time in Oscar history that a feature and its companion short are nominated for the award in the same year.
So what do you think? Does Aningaaq add to Gravity's gripping narrative in a substantial way? Does the film work as a short in its own right? And if you were given the choice to see both films for the first time in a theatre, what order do you think they should be played in?