What Ended The “Alcohol Run” Of The Heroes Of The Tragicomedy Another Round (2020). Explanation Of The End Of The Film, The Meaning & Description Of The Plot, What The SMS, Correspondence & Dance In The Finale Mean.
Country: Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden
Genre: drama, tragicomedy
Year of production: 2020
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Rante, Thomas Bo Larsen and others
- European Film Awards 2020: Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Film;
- San Sebastian 2020: Best Actor, Feroz Zinemaldia and SIGNIS awards;
- Oscar 2021, Cesar 2021, British Academy Film Awards 2021: Best Foreign Language Film.
The Meaning of Another Round (Druk, the original Danish title means “Drinking”) intrigued audiences around the world when it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. However, fans of the lead actor Mads Mikkelsen and the original director Thomas Vinterberg noticed him earlier.
What is the movie about
In the story, the history teacher Martin (Mads Mikkelson’s character) is experiencing an existential crisis. He is over forty, the work has turned into a boring routine, the students are unhappy with him, there is no unity in the family, his wife has moved away from him. Three teacher friends comfort Martin, but their lives are no better.
Martin and his three teacher friends. Frame from the film.
One of them, Nikolai, whose 40th birthday celebration everyone gathered, talks about the hypothesis of the Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skorderud that the constant content of a small dose of alcohol in the blood helps to be more efficient and happier. Friends decide to test this assumption and conduct a scientific experiment, the point of which is to drink during work hours and track their results.
At first, the “testers” follow the rule: the alcohol content in the blood should not exceed half a ppm. However, the experiment shows good results (everyone feels better, their working capacity improves, teachers find a common language with students, Martin reunites with his family) and friends decide to first increase the level to one ppm, and then completely “act according to the situation”.
This predictably leads to alcoholism for all four. Colleagues at work begin to notice something was wrong, Nikolai and Martin have conflicts in their families. In the latter, the situation comes to a divorce.
Eventually the friends stop the experiment. Everyone stops drinking alcohol, except for Tommy, a lonely gym teacher. He loses his job and, after drinking again, gets into a boat, goes out to sea and dies.
After Tommy’s funeral, the three friends meet at a restaurant and have some more drinks. They see a group of alumni drive by and join in the celebration. Martin receives a text from his wife who seems ready to give him a chance. In the finale, the main character has fun with everyone and performs a dance.
Another Round is a film with a fairly simple plot that does not require special interpretation. And yet there is some hidden meaning here. The idea of the picture, according to the director himself, was constantly changing: from the moment the script was developed to the stage of editing. Therefore, the film, despite the clarity of what is happening in the frame, comes across as a confused explanation of the essence of the problems associated with alcohol – as uncertain as the characters themselves, and desperate, like Martin’s dance at the end.
Mads Mikkelsen as protagonist Martin. Frame from the film.
Thomas Vinterberg said in an interview that Another Round was originally intended to be an ode to alcohol. Then the meaning changed dramatically – it was decided to show the bitter truth. After that, the director shifted the focus again, talking not so much about the dangers of alcohol, but about finding inspiration in life.
A tragic event had a strong influence on the script and the denouement: the death of the director’s daughter Ida in a car accident. The girl was the inspiration for the filming of the picture: she talked a lot about the drinking traditions of young people in Denmark and insisted that her father stage a full-length film based on his play, written by him in Austria.
Ida was supposed to play Martin’s daughter. The scene of part of the events of Another Round is the school in which she studied. The tragedy happened a week after filming began. Vinterberg said that, paradoxically, if not for the death of his daughter, the film would have turned out to be more depressing and not with such a life-affirming ending. The painting is dedicated to the memory of Ida.
Another Round turned out to be a multi-layered film. It cannot be said that alcohol here acts only as a catalyst for events in the lives of characters, as often happens in other works. The director assigns him a significant role, as if savoring the intoxicating drink along with the characters. And, yes, in the context of everything that is happening, it turns out that drinking is rather good: it killed Tommy, while the life of the rest became better. But this is too superficial.
If we make a deeper analysis, it becomes clear that the entire “alcohol race” of four friends (recall that it was with such a youth competition that the film began, and the finale of the film was a celebration similar to honoring the winners at the finish line) is a kind of Rubicon that the heroes must cross to die or be changed forever.
It is known that alcohol creates the illusion of relaxation due to a partial (or complete – depending on the stage of intoxication) loss of control over oneself. As the director says, Another Round is about exactly that – about access to the uncontrollable.
Each of the four lives in his own familiar and completely bored world, but is afraid to do at least something to change his life. The director sneers at the characters, depicting their troubles. The historian suffers from the once beautiful, but irrevocably gone past. Psychologist – from relationships in one’s own family. Fizruk – from passivity and weakness. Musician – from lack of inspiration. Everyone is afraid of what they have to be a master of if they teach this subject.
Everyone rushes into the “experiment” proposed by Nikolai, as if into an abyss, at the same time hoping for salvation. After all, it is clear to them, without further explanation, that in fact there is no question of any scientific character: there is no independent assessment from the outside – there is no objectivity. The point is that this is a personal challenge for everyone, which is not so scary to go together.
The meaning of the ending
For a correct explanation of the ending and clues to the director’s message, one should pay attention to the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard, whose name is mentioned in Another Round for a reason (Peter’s student Sebastian talked about him at the exam). This is the brightest thinker in Denmark. Vinterberg, half-jokingly, even said that he combined in his film what the core of the Danish soul consists of: Kierkegaard and alcohol.
The philosopher in his works wrote about the loss of control – in his opinion, this is where the divine nature is manifested. A person feels God when he falls in love (“falls into love”, as into an abyss) or rushes towards the unknown – towards his fear.
Such a “leap of faith” is impossible without inspiration, without risk, without loss of control. The personification of all this in the final scene of the picture is Martin’s desperate (“oh, it was – it wasn’t!”) Dance of Martin and his actual jump-flight from the pier.
Frame from the film.
The track at the end of the film, under which this action takes place, is “What a Life” from “Scarlet Pleasure”. Here are the phrases from there: “What a life! .. I don’t know where I will be … but I am young and alive! I don’t care what they say! .. I’m tearing up … the possibility of being on the other side scares me … I have no idea what I should do … It’s okay, it’s okay! .. I’m young and alive .. What a life! The text is like drunken delirium, an enthusiastic reflection on this jump into the abyss.
Listen to What A Life — Scarlet Pleasure
The meaning of the ending of the film Another Round lies in this dance as a gesture of desperation: “be what will be!”. It concentrates both pain, and regrets about the lost, and hope for a new and happy future.
It is not known and not so important whether this future for Martin will be connected with his wife who left him. Many in the reviews pay great attention to the correspondence of the former spouses – SMS at the end of the film Another Round. Although there is nothing special about them. There is the same uncertainty that the character plunged into with his head, with a small spark of hope.
There is also gratitude to a friend who went all the way with him and sunk into the abyss (Tommy is not the son of the protagonist, but the deceased physical education teacher, because it was the latter who said that he believed that Martin and Anika would be together):
Anika: I miss you too. Highly
Martin: I think Tommy believes in us
Anika: Me too”