Film Review

Burial

todayFebruary 16, 2023 145

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By Gareth Jones

For fans of Andrei Tarkovsky, Experimental Documentaries, Nuclear Waste concerns (who isn’t concerned?)

Released in 2022 (not to be confused with the horror film with the same title) this experimental Lithuanian documentary is directed by Emilija Škarnulytė. 

It has the pacing of Tarkovsky as well as his immersive cinematography.  It focuses on the Ingnalina Power Plant in Lithuania which was the sister power plant to Chernobyl.  After that disaster, it was decided that IPP would be dismantled.  But what do you do with the nuclear waste and all of those materials?  The film brilliantly immerses the audience in this existential crisis.  There are minimal captions, with the fluid camera moving from godlike aerial footage to underwater footage in the old uranium mines which takes on a truly horrific atmosphere for anyone with claustrophobia.  The sound design is hypnotic with a mix of diegetic hums, whines, and at times haunting ghostlike singing. Inexplicably, there is also a python that appears first underwater and then gracefully gliding across the controls of the defunct power plant.  There is even an astonishing sequence with the snake shedding a skin in close up that puts the audience in a trance. Škarnulytė does a masterful job comparing the burial techniques and aesthetics of humans to how the nuclear waste will be buried.  One fact that is disturbing is that the Chernobyl waste is currently being housed in giant orange cylinders that will last for 100 years.  Nuclear waste takes from 1,000 to 10,000 years to decompose.  Luckily, the film presents the information in such a style that gives you room to contemplate rather than panic.

Available to stream on MUBI and Amazon Prime.

Written by: Gareth Jones

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