26 April 1986: Chernobyl's reactor number 4 explodes and provokes the biggest nuclear disaster in history. Pripyat, where the plant is located, becomes a ghost city. Guided by former inhabitants, Eliška Cílková takes us in her quest of the town's memory. Gracefully shot, the film reminds us the power of music where less expected.
In 1986, on the day of the Chernobyl accident, the entire world watched in awe and shock the anonymous city of Pripyat, northern Ukraine. The town was built just 16 years before, to host the workers of the infamous nuclear plant. 30 long hours after the explosion, Pripyat was evacuated. The inhabitants were taken away by the army, with the instruction of to leave everything behind. This tragedy created a sort of modern Pompeii, a ghost town where everything stopped abruptly. In those post-apocalyptic landscapes, pianos still stand, now playing a broken music like the last simulacrums of a long-gone reality. Eliška Cílková masterfully navigates among crumbling buildings and a lush nature, evoking the trauma of the accident through the songs written by the former Pripyat inhabitants. The lyrics of those ballads tell us about the longing for home and a past impossible to forget. The camera reveals the disturbing beauty of those instruments that despite falling into pieces still move us. Pripyat Piano is an ode to the tangible beauty of music and his power to transmit memory and hope.
Rebecca De Pas