Kak Ya Provyol Etim Letom (2010) (How I Ended This Summer)
Aleksei Popogrebski’s How I Ended This Summer (2010) chronicles an unspecified number of days in the life of Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis), the sole operator of a meteorological survey unit on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, and the younger, hipper Pavel (Grigoriy Dobrigin), an intern at the station. Popogrebski embellishes his widescreen canvas with breathtaking images of Chukotka, Russia, which appears as though it is the very edge of the earth. For Sergei, however, it is the very edge of his life, for confronting this seemingly limitless stretch of unpopulated, hostile and godforsaken terrain is like confronting the human condition itself. Faced with this predicament, Sergei holds-on to illusions that comfort him the most: work (however mechanized and pointless it may be) and family (both his real family that lives on the mainland and his newfound ‘son’ Pavel). Communication, or rather the inability to establish it, forms the prime motif of Popogrebski’s film. Be it between the island and the mainland or between two individuals in the same room (and, since we are in that realm, between man and God), meaningful communication seems to be a luxury. (The film abounds with radioactive emissions, short waves and SMS smileys while there are only a few shots shots where we see two people together in the frame). Taking the idea of the lack of communication to a more tangible domain, How I Ended This Summer could be seen as a quasi Cold War allegory – a reading that’s quite plausible given that residual nuclear deposit on the island is what drives the plot – where an utter lack of understanding and introspection on the part of both the superpowers not only proved internecine, but has also left an indelible mark on generations to come. Popogrebski, of course, can’t propose a retroactive solution. He can, and does, only look forward to a renewed future, even if it means starting with a simple hug.
(Image Courtesy: BFI )