25 | 02 | 2024

"Hotel Panoptykon" [Hotel Panopticon]

More than two centuries ago, a British lawyer, philosopher and economist,  Jeremy Bentham, invented the "Panopticon" – a closed, segregated, space with thorough surveillance for total supervision of the people found within. According to his idea, he assumed that the prisoners, mentally ill, workers or students – aware that they are under constant observation, and their each and every move is being recorded – would impose limitations upon themselves.

The author of this film presents Bentham’s idea, comparing it to the reality of the „Cracovia” hotel in Krakow, full of equipment for monitoring and eavesdropping on the guests. The devices were not dismantled after the transformation of Poland’s political system; they were discovered during a renovation in 1991, which was immediately publicized by the „Dziennik Polski” daily, provoking an avalanche of information concerning eavesdropping devices in other hotels and public buildings.

Specialists and operators, who were responsible for surveillance during the times of the People’s Republic of Poland – not all of them willing to show their faces – talk about the how such equipment was installed, used, and how it functioned. The „Panopticon Hotel”, which at certain moments reminds us closely of an educational film, is an attempt – a quite ironic one – to grasp the rules applied by the Security Service of the People’s Republic of Poland, eavesdropping on and observing both citizens and foreign guests. In the end, the viewers are left uncertain whether matters of this kind can really be forgotten: not all of those speaking of their activities use the past tense in the film.

za: PAT

"Hotel >Panoptykon<" [Hotel "Panopticon"]
Directing: Piotr Jaworski
Production: Prasa & Film Ltd.
Year of production: 1998