A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once ...
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A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere... Written by
Koktebel Film Company
A tense, stunning and often frustrating marathon of film
Russian director Alexei Popogrebsky's "How I Ended This Summer" is a tense, stunning and often frustrating marathon of film. This is an award winning film having claimed the Golden Bear at The Berlin International Film Festival and best film at the London Film Festival Awards, and certainly provides a unique cinematic experience with its stunning landscapes and minimal use of dialogue and soundtrack.
The film follows the stark lives of two Russian meteorologists, working on an inhospitable and isolated wasteland on the Siberian coast. College student Pavel is on a work placement, attempting to work alongside experienced and intimidating Sergei. The environment itself is the source of much of the cinematic beauty but also deadly hazards: polar bears, radioactivity, sheer cliffs, and wild weather. These hazards, and the abhorrent isolation takes its toll on immature Pavel who becomes unable to communicate with Sergei. The tension reaches breaking point when Pavel loses Sergei's trust and is unable to bring himself to tell him the news that his family has died in a car accident.
Where this film excels is in scene depiction, with every view a stunning image symbolic of Pavel's temperament. Almost every image in this film could be a photograph worthy of framing. The landscape is stark, the soundtrack is almost nonexistent, as is the dialogue, and it forces the viewer to experience Pavel's toxic isolation.
But to be perfectly honest, I have never been more frustrated watching a film than when I endured the two hours of silence that is "How I Ended This Summer". Several times throughout the film you are forced to spend over a minute watching a character walk off into the distance, and all this with no music, no dialogue, not even anything to think about. For a while I even played music in the background just to maintain sanity. To add to this frustration, our main character Pavel is an irritating young man who constantly makes mistakes, is completely devoid of any courage, seems to have no interests and makes every wrong decision he possibly can.
Perhaps it is this very frustration that makes this film award winningly unique. Popogrebski outstandingly succeeds in communicating the feelings of young Pavel, even if it at times this process is excruciatingly painful. "How I Ended This Summer" is a film for film buffs. To anyone else wanting to endure this marathon I would suggest multitasking with some knitting or doing some pushups, otherwise you could expect to be footing the bill for the screen you just threw your drink at.
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