Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel

“I saw... me. And I strangled... me.”

Science fiction stories often work well as a shell in which authors and filmmakers can provide social commentary without it being obvious. In the case of Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, based on the book by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky who also wrote the screenplay, the film uses a detective story that ends up involving aliens and androids as a way to look at the closed-off nature of life under the Soviet regime. Is it a perfect film? No, but it’s a fascinating one. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off our Soviet Science Fiction series with Grigori Kromanov’s 1979 film Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel.

We talk about the nature of the story and why it works well as both science fiction and social commentary. We look at the setting of the film and why the cold, oppressive mountains with the brilliant moog synth score work so well to set the tone. We chat about the surreal qualities of the film and how sometimes, it’s these elements that contribute to a confusing story, affecting our understanding and enjoyment of the film. We look at the authors/screenwriters and director, talking about what they brought to the table. we discuss the dark and cold cinematography by Jüri Sillart and why it’s so effective. And we look into Estonian folklore and how it may have influenced certain elements in the film.

It’s a fascinating film and one well worth checking out. We have a great time chatting about it so give it a watch – it’s streaming for free on YouTube – then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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