Bunker Palace Hôtel (1989)

If you’ve actually heard of Enki Bilal, you probably know him as a graphic novelist whose work appeared in the original Metal Hurlant.  Or you might have seen his very strange SF film, Immortel Ad Vitam.

But you probably haven’t seen his first movie, Bunker Palace Hôtel.  Very few Americans have.

There’s some sort of rebellion going on against a tyrannical government and all the most important people have gathered in an underground bunker to ride it out in luxury with a full staff of robot servants.  Only the most of the robots are breaking down and the hotel complex itself is falling apart.

A young rebel, Clara, takes the place of a a fallen comrade and  manages to infiltrate the hotel.  But the mysterious Holm (Jean-Louis Trintignant) appears to know who she is – and might even be helping her.

A lot of people will find this very clever – and often funny – movie somewhat static.  After all, most of its running time takes place within the bunker.  Its layers of plotting and counterplotting are deliberately (and frustratingly) vague, and we learn very little about the rebellion, the elites or the tottering society outside

Oh, and it’s in French, with a bit of Russian.

It isn’t for everyone.  But if you’re willing to meet it halfway, it is a wickedly enjoyable little film.

(For my review of his second film, see Tykho Moon (1996))

(The movie is available here).


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