Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (film)

Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (Estonian: "Hukkunud Alpinisti" hotell, Russian: Отель "У погибшего альпиниста") is a 1979 Soviet era Estonian film directed by Grigori Kromanov and based on the 1970 novel Dead Mountaineer's Hotel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who also wrote the screenplay.[1]

Dead Mountaineer's Hotel
Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (film).jpg
Directed byGrigori Kromanov
Written byArkady and Boris Strugatsky
StarringUldis Pūcītis
Jüri Järvet
Lembit Peterson
Mikk Mikiver
Kārlis Sebris
Irena Kriauzaitė
Music bySven Grünberg
CinematographyJüri Sillart
Edited bySirje Haagel
Release date
  • 1979 (1979)
Running time
93 minutes
CountrySoviet Union


The film was directed by Grigori Kromanov, with his wife Irena Veisaitė acting as assistant director while taking a sabbatical year from university.[2] It was filmed between 1978 and 1979 in Kazakhstan, and set in a fictional western country.[2][1] Lead actor Uldis Pūcītis, who did not speak Estonian, had his lines dubbed by Estonian actor and theatre teacher Aarne Üksküla [et].[3]


Inspector Glebsky arrives at the hotel "Dead Mountaineer's" because of an anonymous call. This hotel is located in a remote area in a valley, hidden among the mountains in some European country. The very name of the hotel - "Dead Mountaineer's" can be explained quite simply: one climber died here who fell off a cliff. He left only his faithful dog behind - a St. Bernard called Lel. In the hotel there is a rather bleak portrait of the climber near which faithful Lel likes to sleep.

Almost all of the lodgers are rather strange, especially Mr. and Mrs. Moses and Olaf Andvarafors. Later another strange individual materializes; Luarvik, who can not even utter a couple of words. Mr. Moses and Luarvik turn out to be aliens and Mrs. Moses and Olaf are their robots, although they look like ordinary people. And in the mountains they suffer a calamity.

After a heavy snowfall, when the hotel is cut off from the outside world, a body appears at one point. Inspector Glebsky initiates an investigation, using all of his standard skills. However the investigation of the pseudo-murder of Olaf comes to a standstill. And when seemingly all intricacies of the plot unravel and the aliens can safely leave the Earth a military helicopter appears.

The inspector has a chance to do great service to the aliens, but Glebsky behaves like a typical cop, subordinate only to common sense and official instructions which leads to the tragic outcome.

At the end of the film the inspector is plagued by doubts whether he did everything he could.

Reception and analysisEdit

Eva Näripea and Henriette Cederlöf, in a 2015 article on the film, viewed it as a blend of science fiction and film noir, the latter particularly in its visual aesthetics.[4] They also viewed the film as "[touching] upon the inherent tensions and social anxieties of the 'crudely communist' Soviet regime" and "Soviet nationalism and the threat it poses to the language, culture and the very existence of non-Russian ethnic groups".[4] Gender identity was also a theme that they identified in the film, commenting on its "apparent denial of heteronormativity as the sole accepted coordinate system for sexual identity", which "parallels its obvious denunciation of oppressive power relations and the attempts by Soviet authorities to combat all kinds of otherness, including of ideological and ethnic origin".[4]



  • Best cinematography (Jüri Sillart), USSR Film Competition (Shostka), 1979
  • Best cinematography (Jüri Sillart), Estonian SSR Film Festival, 1980
  • Best art design (Tõnu Virve), Estonian SSR Film Festival, 1980
  • Jury Special Prize for novel expression in film music (Sven Grünberg), Estonian SSR Film Festival, 1980



  1. ^ a b Pick, Anat & Narraway, Guinevere (2014) Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human, ISBN 978-1782382270, p. 170
  2. ^ a b Plasseraud, Yves (2015) Irena Veisaite: Tolerance and Involvement, Brill/Rodopi, ISBN 978-9004298903, p. 116
  3. ^ "Hukkunud Alpinisti hotell (1979)", Retrieved 28 August 2020
  4. ^ a b c Näripea, Eva & Cederlöf, Henriette (2015) "Genre and Gender in the Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (1979)", Science Fiction Film & Television, Volume 8, Issue 2, ISSN 1754-3770. Retrieved 1 January 2019
  5. ^ "Festivals, awards, nominations", Retrieved 1 January 2018

External linksEdit