The Concrete Ghost Town of Linnahall
If it’s good for Chris Nolan, it should be good for any filmmaker. Welcome to Linnahall – one of the most stunning pieces of recent architecture you will find in Eastern Europe.
It’s amazing how much influence sports events can have on things — like architecture, movies and politics — that have nothing to do with sports.
The 1980 Olympic Games were held in Moscow, which at that time was the capital of the former Soviet Union. Sports were, amongst other things, a powerful propaganda tool and were taken seriously, especially in Leonid Brezhnev’s “Evil Empire” era.
While most of the events were held in Moscow, one of them couldn’t be accommodated there, due to the geographical position of the city: there was no nearby ocean for the sailing events!
So the Soviets headed to Tallinn, the capital of the then Estonian Socialist Soviet Republic, and quickly built a low-rise concrete structure to accommodate that single Olympic event…and double as a sort of fort in the case of an attack.
The original moniker was a tiny bit longer and more fitting to the political climate at the time: The Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Palace of Culture and Sports. Now known as Tallinna Linnahall, the structure looks like a concrete ghost town or forgotten military fort, it still holds a certain type of appeal as it represents a stark contrast of what once used to be the heart of cultural life in Estonia.
Linnahall remains one of the most fascinating pieces of architecture in Tallinn, apart from the stunning Old Town, of course. That is probably why Chris Nolan decided to shoot a good portion of his action thriller “Tenet” here. The movie is scheduled to be released on July 17, 2020, by Warner Bros. Pictures, and is the biggest production to ever be associated with Estonia.
Built to hold 5000 people, the structure of Linnahall is now virtually abandoned and crumbling since Estonia hasn’t been able to find much use for such a large venue lately. What was once the venue for pretty much everything in Tallinn, from rock concerts to sports events and political rallies, is now a sad memory of a long-gone era.
Still, Tallinn gained a lot from this politically loaded move: As the world followed the Olympics right down to the last detail, new buildings were erected in an attempt to reinforce the industriousness of the The Soviet Union and prove to the world that they were not only capable, but better than American propagandists would have liked the world to believe.
And movie makers will likely sense this right away.
Rarely will you witness such a combination of pristine architecture and a somber feeling of solitude, with a little bit of gothic grey thrown into the mix. If the walls of Tallinn Linnahall could speak, they’d do it in a mournful and cheerless fashion — something an adventurous filmmaker could really take advantage of.
And if you get your audio equipment set up just right, you never know what your mic will pick up on.
And if you choose Linnahall as your next movie location, you’ll receive a solid 30% cash rebate on all eligible production costs…a sweet deal indeed!
Photos: Location Unit, Visit Estonia