Another Round and Drinking Culture
Scot MacKenzie, an Edinburgh-based film student, found parallels in Denmark’s Oscar-winning drinking drama Another Round and his own student drinking experiences.
My favourite drink on a night out, as of this moment, is a vodka orange. I do enjoy a good Jägerbomb too. I love a drink and as a student ‘drinking culture’ is just a part of the uni experience. Over the last year, however, I have truly noticed how some people can take things a little too far and push their limits over the edge to the point where it becomes problematic.
Watching Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, I was struck by the similarities between the drinking culture of middle-aged and young people. In the film, we see four middle-aged high school teachers getting their booze on during working hours as part of a psychological experiment to try and increase productivity. Our protagonists’ main goal is to try and maintain a 0.05% blood alcohol concentration, however, they then begin to push the limits of this, calling into question the normalisation of drinking.
The way drinking culture is portrayed in cinema is interesting to me because, most often, there are two absolute extremes: life-ruining alcoholism or idealisation of getting drunk. Film and media often romanticise problematic issues such as drug abuse, eating disorders, depression and alcoholism. With a little touch of avant-garde cinematography and aesthetic lighting, these issues begin to feel less real and without consequence.
Young people, I believe, are most susceptible to idealising these serious problems to the point where they don’t feel like problems anymore. Over the last year, I’ve heard of students completing coursework under the influence, turning up or even driving to lectures drunk and sitting exams whilst intoxicated. But then again, it’s all just part of the experience - we’re students! We can get away with it, right? But there is a fine line between it being a serious issue or just for fun. It can be difficult to try to determine what is or isn’t problematic as alcohol consumption is high and a regular aspect of student life.
Another Round deftly explores ideas around idealising or normalising drinking culture. Having experienced life in the gutter it is still nearly impossible for the protagonists to escape the pull of a ‘Skål!’ during any moments of celebration. This is because, at the end of the day, drinking is inescapably woven into their culture. The film itself may not normalise drinking but our characters do, and they face the consequences.
Going out for drinks are staple social events, as much for the Danish as for the Scots. Drinks on a Friday night will always be something I enjoy and it has been a predominant aspect of my student experience. I most likely won’t be quitting drinking anytime soon, but knowing my limits is vitally important to me. This usually occurs after my terrible singing skills are revealed. That’s when I know it’s time to switch to water.
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With support of the BFI Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery.