The strange and terrifying world of Latvian travel advice

If nothing on the TV schedules or cinema listings appeals to you over the next few days, you could do far worse than check out a new series of public information films produced by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which are sure to amaze, confound and terrify.

Produced under the 'Ceļo droši' or 'Travel Safely' slogan, the four short films pack an awful lot of cinematic punch into a few seconds.

First up we have 'App', which helpfully reminds travellers to take money and passport with them but to leave their firearms at home in a safe place, such as cast casually under a piece of paper in a drawer.

Instead of handguns, download the ministry's travel app, unless of course, you are in search of the head of Alfredo Garcia, in which case, maybe you should be packing heat after all.

Things take a darker twist with the next film, a sort of minimalist Midnight Express which begins with fake reviews from fake newspapers and then advises potential drugs mules that some countries have the death penalty for those convicted of smuggling narcotics.

In any case, the whole smuggling-drugs-in-a-coffin device is so old, no film-literate border guard is going to be fooled (see the fantastic 1947 film They Made Me A Fugitive for more details).

If you thought that one was depressing, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Meet Zane who "dreamed of having a real family" but was duped into marrying for money.

As sinister, vaguely oriental music reverberates in the background, we learn more of Zane's terrible fate at the hands of the diabolical Khnurn, Atum and Bastet who are "willing to marry any European Union citizen to legalize their lives in Europe."

Things go even further downhill for Zane, the grisly details of which we shall spare you. However two things are made abundantly clear, if you hadn't realised them already: those chaps were thoroughly bad eggs and marrying for money is a bad idea.

After that, it's time for some light relief with a Jacques Tati style comedy of a man at a bus stop in the Caucasus. He talks to the mountains. The mountains steal his bag.

But let's not leave on a high note. Instead we'll finish with the tragic tale of star-cross'd lovers involved in a fatal moped accident and the important question of whether or not they have travel insurance. Think Romeo & Juliet meets Roman Holiday meets Crash and you get the idea.


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