The Hell of the Arctic Circle in How I Ended This Summer


The only men inhabiting miles of hostile landscape, Pavel and Sergei (Grigoriy Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis) live and work in a meteorological observation post on an island in the Arctic Circle. Between them exists the natural uneasiness of different lifestyles and generations: Sergei, a phlegmatic taskmaster who has resigned his life to the service, is 20 years older than the passing-through Pavel, restless and glad to retreat behind the shelter of his headphones. Their tenuous truce is threatened when Pavel hesitates to pass along a vital message from the mainland to Sergei. One flinching failure of nerve accumulates into a scrambling cover-up, an illustration of philosopher Sissela Bok’s maxim “The first lie must be thatched with another or it will rain through”; when the rain comes, it’s a downpour. Popogrebsky and his dueting cast give the escalating emotional tension of their story necessary veracity. Playing an ignoble protagonist, Dobrygin keeps his motives always quietly evident; later, lost in a fog painted red by an emergency flare, he’s an abject vision of man in a hell of his own making. As the conflict turns feral and spills out of doors, details of survival and attrition recall the Russian affinity for Jack London. The wrap-up shows Popogrebsky uncertain of what he means to say, but there is much to see beforehand.

The Latest