The Soviet government founded the town of Pripyat on February 4, 1970 to house the workers and the scientists who arrived to work at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant some 100 miles from Kiev. Pripyat, which got its name from the nearby Pripyat river, was billed as the Soviet Union’s ninth nuclear city or “atomograd” and by 1979 was home to over 49,000 people of 27 nationalities. It was a young city, with most of its residents being in their early to mid-twenties.
Soon after the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, the thriving town became a ghost town with the establishment of an Exclusion Zone by the Soviet military. (It is also referred to by the Soviets as The Zone of Alienation). The zone initially existed in a 19 mile radius around the nuclear plant which was designated for evacuation and placed under military control.
Its borders have since been altered to cover a larger area of the Ukraine. Vastly expanded since 1986, it now covers an area of approximately 1,000 square miles in the Ukraine. Immediately surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant radioactive contamination is highest and public access and inhabitation are restricted. Other areas of compulsory resettlement and voluntary relocation not part of the restricted exclusion zone exist in the surrounding areas and throughout Ukraine. In February 2019 it was revealed that talks have been underway to redraw the boundaries of the Exclusion Zone to reflect the declining radioactivity of the Zone’s outer areas.
This long video somewhat paradoxically is posted on ProArt Inc., a channel known for its relaxing, reflective videos of nature. Surprisingly, with beautiful soothing music in the background, this is just what this video delivers. I clicked the link posted on a drone site I subscribe to. I was interested in the video because I have a DJI Mavic Air 2, the same type of drone used to shoot the above video. Within a few minutes, though, I was mesmerized by the contemplative, reflective mood of the film.
The atmosphere of this 4K aerial video is reflective and meditative. The type of music one might hear in a spa or yoga class. Yet in its quiet, subtle way, the film offers an important contribution to the battle to save the enviroment from the pollutions of our modern world. It helps us understand the price we pay for using unsafe energy. Nuclear energy is always dangerous and carries risks of long-term restoration of a healthy environment. The drone footage above the Exclusion Zone shows nature reclaiming the area in the amazing diversity of flora and fauna that has grown in the disaster zone.
The spectacle of one of the world’s great urban apocalypses and its reclamation back to nature is accompanied by a soothing ambient music along with the soft patter of rain. The cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat appear as islands of tangled nature, lost in the woods and more and more absorbed back into nature. The overcast weather and stunning scarlet sunset give the scenic drone footage a special flavor.
Altogether, one of the great environment meditations ever made.
For those who want to see a few of the highlights from the long three hour video, go to the surreal view of the Duga radar facility on a foggy day (27:38). Or, see the legendary motto of Pripyat in large letters on the top of a building “Let the atom be a worker, not a soldier” at (1:24:16) proclaiming the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Or, see the Pripyat River at (2:46:41) on which both abandoned cities stand. The Paryshivskyi Bridge is at (3:05:45)
This film was shot with a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone in 4K resolution at 60 fps. Produced by Roman Khomlyak for Pro Art Inc. The cinematographer was Oleksandr Diakov and the editor and colorist was Bohdan Bryskankin and the supervising editor was Oleksandr Diakov. Special thanks are given to the guides from Chernobyl Tour Anna Kirianova and Ihor Trotsiuk. For the best quality watch these breathtaking aerial views on a 4K television.
(John’s writing has appeared in a number of environmental pulbications such as Desert Report, a Sierra Club publication about the deserts of the American southwest)