Cinematographer Danny Cooke spent a week with his guide Yevgein, known as the Stalker, exploring Chernobyl and the city of Prypiat, Ukraine. He came back with a haunting and beautiful video which is essentially a time capsule of the city, frozen by a devastating nuclear disaster that occurred nearly 30 years ago. His aerial shots are especially quite stunning.
This video titled “Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl” was shot while working for CBS News on a “60 Minutes” television segment about the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. There have been countless images made of this city, but Cooke’s drone footage offers a unique perspective as it silently drifts through the lifeless city overtaken by trees and decay. The buildings appear as empty shells with the occasional close up of a sign, photograph, or painting that signified the Soviet culture that once existed there.
Their journey through this city, armed with a geiger counter, could have been a dangerous one as it is considered one of the most contaminated places on Earth. It is an eerie feeling knowing that they stood there at all, where without their protective gear it would virtually be a death sentence. One of the final shots of this video, a landscape of gas masks, is possibly the most chilling image of all. It’s a reminder of the deadly impact that the accident had on the city’s community and the dark legacy that will forever follow the name Chernobyl.