(promo here), the winner of the best habitat program award at the 2011 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, which kicks off the new season of Nature on PBS tomorrow night.
They really are radioactive. As a result, the scientists studying the wolves are limited in the amount of time they can spend in the wide no-man’s land surrounding Chernobyl and must take precautions not to ingest hair particles when interacting with the animals. Surprisingly, despite the initial devastation caused by the meltdown, the area has become a sheltered Eden for wildlife. As the top predators, the health of the wolves necessarily implies every creature below them in the food chain is also flourishing.
Radioactive largely follows the traditional format for nature films, mainly observing the wolves in their habitat and the scientists’ efforts to collar and examine them, with some explanatory narration from Harry Smith. However, it rather forthrightly addresses the Soviets’ massive assault on the environment, draining marshes to create a habitat-devastating system of canals. Nor does it paint a particularly flattering portrait of the Soviet response to the mounting Chernobyl debacle.
Feichtenberger and crew captured some truly striking images of the once bustling Pripyat ghost city, now reclaimed by the indigenous wildlife. Frankly, Radioactive is a somewhat bold production, because it largely undercuts the anti-nuclear campaign’s propaganda of scorched earth and lifeless wastelands as the inevitable consequence of nuclear power. Granted, humans cannot live in the zone, but nature has rebounded, reversing the damage of years of state economic planning.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Into Eternity), Radioactive is exactly the sort of programming public television was intended to present. It airs this Wednesday (10/19) on PBS as part of the new season of Nature.
(Photos: Klaus Feichtenberger)