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Viimne reliikvia (Estonian for The last relic) is a 197Estonian film adaptation of Vürst Gabriel ehk Pirita kloostri viimsed päevad (Estonian for Prince Gabriel or The last days of Pirita monastery), a historical novel by Eduard Bornhöhe. The film became extremely popular, and some critics consider it the only Estonian cult movie.[1]


 [hide*1 Setting


The movie is set during a Livonian War era peasant uprising. A central plot device is the Pirita monastery, a real monastery dedicated to St. Brigitta. Currently, the monastery's original medieval buildings lie in ruins and are kept that way as a museum, but an organisational structure, complete with nuns, was restored after the end of Soviet occupation.

Movie sets[edit][]

Scenes for the movie were recorded in Tallinn Old Town, passages of the Dominican monastery of TallinnTaevaskoja, as well as other places. A mock monastery was built in Kukerand, near Virtsu. Several outdoors scenes were taken in Latvia, near the Gauja river. Indoors scenes were, among other places, taken in the fortress of Kuressaare and theTallinn church of St. Nicholas.


A typical live action movie of the era had a standardised budget of 350,000 roubles. As a special case, the team of Viimne reliikvia managed to haggle themselves a budget of 750,000 roubles — more than double the customary. This lavishness paid off very well, as within the very first year, 772,000 tickets were sold in Estonia only. (Remarkably, Estonia's population at that time was around 1,300,000.) The movie set the absolute box office record for the entire Soviet Union at the time by selling 44.9 million tickets.[2][3] It was successfully distributed by the Soviet film export internationally in more than 60 countries.

Russian version[edit][]

A separate Russian language version, somewhat different in its composition, was also edited, for displaying outside Estonia. This version is 89 minutes in length.


In 2000, the Estonian Film Foundation and Tallinnfilm determined Viimne reliikvia to be an important part of Estonian cultural heritage, and in order to preserve it, undertook a digital remastering. This became the first digitally remastered Estonian movie; others followed.

The digital copy was re-launched on 15 March 2002, and again, became a bestseller. As of 2007, the remastered movie is available on DVD.

Cultural influence[edit][]

The movie became extremely influential, and as such, has been repeatedly lampooned. As one notable example, in 1992, during the early capitalism developing in the aftermath of PerestroikaIvar Vigla prepared a brief parody for Wigla Show, featuring quotes such as "We don't get paid for chitchat" (EstonianMeil lobisemise eest palka ei maksta) and "What will become of us? — A joint venture." (EstonianMis meist saab? — Ühisfirma.) Many of these parody quotes became independently popular, and then, in turn, became lampooned in other venues, such as the Ugala Theatre's production of The Love for Three Oranges.[4] Also, several parodies of the movie's songs have been circulated in the Internet.