Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Great Russian Movies. No. 1: The Geographer Drank His Globe Away

The splendidly titled The Geographer Drank His Globe Away, directed by Aleksandr Veledinsky, with Konstantin Khabensky as the hapless drunk, is one of those films where each member of the cast is brilliant. Set in a savage Winter in the grim riverside port of Perm in Russia, a biologist who has recently been sacked from his job desperately takes up a geography teaching post in a rough run-down school. He knows nothing about geography and finds it impossible to keep order in the classroom. Through his alcoholism he abandons any sense of self worth or seriousness and thereby finds a kind of karmic enlightenment. This, then, is very much a Buddhist movie about the dissembling of self and the achievement of a kind of unattached happiness.The beautiful Elena Lyadova plays the geographer's despairing wife with engaging intensity. Anfisa Chernykh as the loyal student, Masha, is also brilliant in playing a spirited girl in a brutal material world. A charming movie about how people find meaning and fun in grim, unchanging circumstances. Lovely film. Very funny. Totally recommended.