SUMMARY: Two different worlds are separated by an adjoining door. One is a colourful but banal land and the other a grim, grey hell. When characters from the two worlds start to intermingle, they discover some surprising similarities.
WHY IT’S HERE: Estonian animator Priit Parn’s ‘Hotel E’ was made just after the re-establishment of the Estonian Republic after fifty years of Soviet occupation. With this remarkable film, Parn examined the changing relationship between Eastern and Western Europe and the influence of the American dream. It is clear from the outset that Parn has misgivings about what others saw as a hopeful transition. Parn has divided his world into two nightmarish visions. One is a brightly-coloured but eerily robotic world in which the inhabitants indulge in pointless activities and empty conversations. The other is an abysmally grey, windy netherworld where the faceless inhabitants are doomed to sit around a large clock-like table and lift teacups up every time the clock’s hand passes by. ‘Hotel E’ makes its point emphatically when a character from the dark world breaks through into the colourful one and as the two societies tentatively intertwine the inhabitants discover they are not entirely dissimilar. Although it may seem chillingly pessimistic, ‘Hotel E’ is more of a warning to Estonia to go its own way rather than be too heavily influenced by the Western culture flooding into their newly liberated world. The film ends hilariously with a parody of Western animation in which a series of anthropomorphic animals are brutalised in various acts of cartoon violence, making clear Parn’s contempt for what he saw as a crass but powerful social influence.