DENMARK: Another Round (Druk, 2020)

Discovering Life in Grief

by Nina Garcia

Please watch the video essay before reading the crafter statement. Thank you.

Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round focuses on four Danish high-school teachers who test a theory that their day to day lives will improve by maintaining a constant blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05%. Mads Mikkelsen plays Martin, the main character who was once a charismatic and excited teacher, husband, and father, but has sunk into a lull.

I chose this movie for my video essay because I saw myself in it, and it was something I related to. When I watched this movie, I saw myself in the teens celebrating their graduation from secondary school, but also in Martin coping with the death of his friend.

In May of 2022, about three weeks before my highschool graduation, a teacher at the highschool I attended, but more importantly a close family friend, took her own life. It was the worst way to end the year. Everyone felt the loss heavily and all the important milestones my class experienced felt warped. It was hard to enjoy everything when we were still processing the loss of a member of the school community. Her death felt like a dust of grief that settled over life. Grief is weird. It’s not tangible but feels like an enormous weight. Grief is like a blanket that’s comforting but suffocating at the same time. Grief the misplaced love we have for someone when they’re not there to take it anymore.

In researching for this project, I watched Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar acceptance speech for the film. He explains how four days into the shooting Another Round, his daughter was killed in a car crash shortly after her own graduation from secondary school. She was excited about the project, and was supposed to be in the film. In his speech, Vinterberg talks about how it felt impossible to move forward and work on a happy project when he had just been struck with tragedy, the same way I felt last spring when someone in my own life had passed. With this loss, Vinterberg initially took a step back from the film but then came back to use it as an outlet. From his loss, he moved forward and tried to turn his grief into art. The movie became a monument to her, and her death gave the film a new meaning.

To many, this comes off as a movie about alcohol, but it is a celebration of life.

The film encapsulates the joy and struggles that we take for granted in day to day life, and uses alcohol as an agent to emphasize all the things we should appreciate but often don’t. It walks a fine line between neither condemning nor glorifying alcohol. Even before the introduction of the day drinking, we see both mundane and enjoyable aspects of the characters’ lives. Friction in a marriage, shortcomings as a teacher, and a racious birthday dinner between friends. The introduction of alcohol only magnifies the highs and lows. The highs turn into night long benders at a bar with friends, and the lows become lying unconscious in the street, having your children find you. Another Round makes viewers reexamine how they feel about everything they may take for granted, without over-romanticizing life’s less joyful moments. To truly celebrate life is to be grateful for what you have while acknowledging that sometimes life is awkward and difficult. The victories and blunders of each character reinforces the idea that everyone has good and bad moments, but that’s simply how life goes. Vinterberg masterfully works around passing any judgment on the characters actions, and rather illustrates the realities that come with day to day life.

For me, the death of Ms. Biros put things into perspective at a time when everything was chaotic and changing. All my lasts as a high school student, the things I would never experience again, were tainted by grief but also given a new sense of appreciation. The film does the same thing, making the characters wake up and realize how beautiful life is, and in turn, has the same effect on its audience.

Work Cited