Finding youth and happiness through Thomas Winterberg’s Another Round

Parsa Keshavarz Alamdari, Columnist

Illustration by Kai Bowen.

“What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream’s content.”

Thomas Winterberg’s film “Another Round” begins with a poem from celebrated Danish poet, Søren Kierkegaard. Winning the Academy Award for best international feature film back in 2021, it has been praised by critics and cinema enthusiasts alike. It is a reflection of Danish drinking culture. It is also an ode to youth, as the poem appropriately puts it.

When I first watched this film with a friend back in May 2021, I instantly fell in love with it. I asked my dad to watch it too, and he also loved it. Not only is it a beautifully made film, but it makes the audience ponder how to achieve youth and happiness.

The movie features four teachers going through a midlife crisis. Lacking motivation in both the classroom and at home, they decide to test a theory by a Norwegian physician.

Taken grossly out of context, Finn Skårderud once wrote (poetically) that humans are born with 0.05 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) too low. So, they decide to keep their BAC at 0.05 every day except the weekends.

So what does it mean to find happiness and youth through drinking?

Drinking is a common mechanism for many people to cope with stress, anxiety, and negative feelings. As college students, we are quite prone to these factors.

Surrounded by different stress factors and heavy coursework, I personally love to take a couple of hours off and just spend it being ‘in the present’ with loved ones. So, I am not opposed to the idea of drinking with a group of friends.

Drinking is instrumental to Western society, and it has been for quite a long time. When water was not safe to drink, drinking low-alcohol beer and other alcoholic beverages was the best way to keep hydrated. However, this necessity eventually transformed into what we now recognize as substance abuse. The film poses the question of what happens when alcohol becomes your key to happiness.

However, it is only fair to say that drinking is not a solely Western phenomenon. Iranian poets since the 11th century go on and on when talking about wine, praising it as the divine drink of happiness. Some modern Iranians refer to alcohol as “frisky water.”

As college students, we are mostly very familiar with the culture of excessive drinking, partying and puking. Many cultures tend to think of alcohol as an instrument to bring people together to have a good time. However, it is just an instrument.

When I asked my dad about why he drinks, he simply answered me: “It brings joy and youth.”

There is something magical about being young. It’s like there’s nothing in the world that you give a hoot about. You just want to enjoy the moment, not caring if you’re embarrassing yourself.

However, you don’t have to be young to feel young. That’s what this film is all about. Martin (the main character, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen) and his friends seek to find youth in alcohol. But, as they find out through many tragedies, that’s not a sustainable approach.

This movie illustrates that extreme drinking can and will have severe consequences on one’s health and social relationships. This is a message we have to remember when drinking.

Alcohol, therefore, is not the key to happiness or youth. Happiness is not realized through external factors. Instead, simply put, happiness is found within ourselves. 

Meanwhile, I think it is important to remember that we have to enjoy our youth as much as possible. President Murray’s quote is well-known among Whitties: “Your business here is to learn.” That’s right, I suppose. But our business is also to enjoy our youth and create unique memories that last a lifetime.

As I said, you can have fun without drinking. I’m not opposed to drinking at all, but try something new: have a cozy evening with friends, dance to your Spotify playlist, or whatever. And you’ll soon find out that enjoying every second of your life is not that hard after all!

Enjoy yourself. Live in the moment. Cherish everything you have, and live without any regrets.

Let’s give it a try, shall we?