For Estonia, US children's film recalls anti-Soviet struggle

Other News Materials 16 April 2008 16:07 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Horton Hears a Who, a Hollywood children's film in which an elephant saves people living on a tiny speck of dust, is resonating in unexpected ways in the small Baltic nation of Estonia.

For Estonians, the film is an allegory of their past, when Soviet tanks rolled into the nation of 1.3 million people in 1940. Thousands of Estonians were killed or deported to Siberian Gulags.

The movie features vulture Vlad, who speaks with a Russian accent in the original as well as the Estonian version and aims to destroy the speck - home to the tiny residents of Whoville.

Horton, the elephant, hides the speck in a cave on a hill.

The allegory becomes apparent to Estonians when citizens of Whoville sing a patriotic song, reminiscent of the so-called Singing Revolution of the late 1980s when Estonia won independence from the Soviet Union.

"To be on a speck is pride and honour, if I was created on the speck," go the Estonian lyrics.

Critics say the film promotes ethnic hatred and intolerance in a country where ethnic tension has run high between Estonians and minority Russians who are 25 per cent of the population.

"The formation of the image of the enemy becomes an integral part of Estonian society, and, quite naturally this process impacts children," psychologist Julia Mayer told the Pealinn newspaper.

"If one cannot fence off the enemy in real life, it will be done symbolically on the screen," she was quoted this week as saying.

Horton, based on a 1950s children's book by famed US author Dr Seuss, opened in Estonia in March.