“I remember being terrified by the egg”.
While reminiscing with Estonians about the melancholy days of childhood – the long summer days spent cycling through pristine forests, the heady scent of pine filling the nostrils and the hazy summer sunshine flooding the landscapes with a rich, warming glow
– there is one question that will stop the conversation in its tracks.
A sinister question that will cause the blood to run cold, the eyes to widen and a muted silence to take hold, followed by a muffled, “I don’t want to talk about it”.
That question, of course, is “what programs did you watch on TV?”
Whereas the BBC provided British children like myself with many educational programs about ‘A-B-Cs’, ‘1-2-3s’ and how to be nice to your friends, the television in an Estonian household was a terrifying nightmare-box filled with haunting psychedelic monsters and unnatural disorientating noises that penetrate through to your very soul.
The horrifying egg in question here is from the story of Klaabu (1978)…
…but this is by no means the only nightmarish animation to infiltrate the subconscious of innocent Estonian children. Check out this harrowing horse death in Kilplased…
Perhaps the most brutal of them all is the 1980 animation Suur Tõll, a delightful cartoon depicting the legend of Teoll the Great, the kind, helpful and hot-tempered King of Saaremaa. Famous for his tremendous height and propensity for throwing huge rocks at the enemies of the Saaremaa people, the story of Teoll is admittedly not as child-friendly as some of the other Estonian folklore tales but remains a popular story even today.
The film, however, well… see for yourself. If you dare.