In 1995, the Permian writer Alexei Ivanov published the book The Geographer Drank His Globe Away. In 2013, director Alexander Veledinsky is making a film based on the work of the same name. The action in the film is transferred from the “dashing 90s” 20 years ahead, and Konstantin Khabensky as a geographer is 10-15 years older than his book prototype. Differences from the original do not spoil the film at all: it resembles a sequel to the book, allowing you to look at the old story with a fresh look.
What is the movie “The Geographer Drank His Globe Away” about?
Victor Sluzhkin is a biologist, teacher, dismissed from the research institute, drinks heavily and is not particularly concerned about his own unemployment. His wife Nadezhda is tired of Victor’s lack of money and drunkenness: she still endures family life for the sake of her common daughter Tata, but she already openly admits her contempt for her husband. Once Nadia was a student of the talented, charismatic teacher Sluzhkin, whom she married. Now all that remains of Victor is his former charm and the ability not to lose heart in any circumstances.
A couple of days before the start of the school year, Sluzhkin gets a job at a school as a geography teacher. He gets a difficult 9th grade, where the hooligan Gradusov dominates. Masha Bolshakova also studies here, the only one who appreciates the depth and integrity of Viktor Sergeevich’s nature. While the teacher is trying to find a common language with the students, his wife starts an affair with Viktor’s school friend, Budkin. He is financially firmly on his feet, which wins the attention of Nadezhda. Sluzhkin does not oppose what happened: he still drinks and smokes a lot, periodically acquiring a philosophical attitude.
By May, the teacher and his students decide to go rafting down the Kama. In the train, Sluzhkin gets drunk, which deprives him of the right to be a captain, according to the guys. Victor Sergeevich and Masha go to a village by the river to arrange transport. On the way, Masha confesses her love to the teacher, he reciprocates, but you make it clear that there can be nothing between them. Having fallen under a downpour and spending the night in the village, in the morning Victor and his student see the guys rushing along dangerous river rapids. Everything goes well, but an amateur video edited by students ends up on the director’s table. The video clearly compromises Sluzhkin, so the biologist-geographer is unemployed again.
The meaning of the film The geographer drank away the globe
An oxymoron in the film is the name and surname of the protagonist: Victor is the winner, but at the same time Sluzhkin is eternally servant, oppressed. This paradox determines the whole life of the geographer: an intelligent, subtle person throughout the film is presented as a miserable laughing stock. Nadia frenziedly repeats: “The pea jester.” The head teacher exhales tiredly: “Clown.” Pupils perceive Sluzhkin as a peer for a cheerful disposition and childish antics. It seems that only Masha takes seriously this careless, drinking person. Actually, Masha becomes that litmus paper, thanks to which the viewer sees the other side of Victor.
Once alone with Masha in a heated bath, the teacher is faced with the choice of succumbing to passion or retreat. Seemingly weak and weak-willed, Sluzhkin desperately resists his desire. This is not easy for him (the scars from the bath broom speak for themselves), but Victor has enough will. And here it becomes clear that both drinking and idleness are only a mask. In the main character, a real core is hidden, without which one can neither stand nor survive.
Sluzhkin knows how to love, therefore he allows his woman freedom of action. Perhaps he is furiously hurt by her choice, but this is her choice, which Sluzhkin does not support, but does not condemn either. A sign of strength is not a condemnation of another.
The ability to see the positive in everything keeps Victor clear. And the sign “happiness is not far off”, which runs like a refrain throughout the film, as if it is the meaning of the film: how not to lose yourself in a gloomy province in the circumstances offered, how to remain true to yourself to the end. A film about a real person, about the eternal search for oneself – everything that is so close to every viewer.
The meaning of the film’s ending
The dismissed Sluzhkin walks with Tata: “Dad, what’s important?” “It’s important to smoke,” the father answers half-jokingly. There is no money even for cigarettes, and Victor makes a cigarette. He inhales with pleasure. Nadia comes out onto the balcony, for a second it seems to her that her husband has fallen down. Genuine horror at this thought is replaced by irritation at the sight of a living and unharmed husband smoking around the corner.
The finale puts an expressive ellipsis in the story of Viktor Sluzhkin. The wife seems to be with someone else, but is clearly not indifferent to the father of her child. There are no cigarettes, but you can always think of something. Life goes on – and therefore there are no hopeless situations. And while we are moping, despairing and desponding, a Perm geography teacher is smoking somewhere on the balcony, peering into his “happiness is not far off.”