Radioactive wild boar invade cities in southern Germany. They take out a man in a wheelchair; they break through fences and roam the roads, cutting off traffic on the highway; they travel in packs in search of food. The police are making efforts to restore order in urban centers. The radioactive boars are armed with a post-apocalyptic payload; they live in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. By foraging on radioactive plants, the animals embody the return of a disaster that many are trying to suppress. After the collapse and collapse of a Chernobyl reactor, more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the 20-mile exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant. Residents exposed to the radiation suffered from radiation poisoning, leukemia and thyroid cancer. According to estimates, some 4,000 people could die from diseases related to the accident.
Now in the Exclusion Zone, amid cracked weed-infested streets, a bear makes its way through a dilapidated city. Marks of human habitation slowly teeter into dilapidated ruin. Paint flakes from buildings and windows have lost their glass. Signs are skewed, not signaling to anyone their previously relevant information about a street name, a supermarket, cafe opening times. In abandoned pastures, there is only scant evidence of the former crops, while native grasses turn the space into a pasture. There, short, stocky horses — the only subspecies never domesticated — roam the wild where humans will never plant again. Thick-haired bison roam forests and fields they have not known for centuries. Without fear of being hunted, the animals thrive in an eerily mutated, post-human wildlife sanctuary where radiation remains 10 to 100 times higher than is safe for habitation. Rare species not seen in the region for hundreds of years have returned, including the Przewalski horse, European bison, lynx and Eurasian brown bear.
As for the radioactive boar several hundred miles away in Germany, with an omnivorous appetite and stout snouts to exterminate food, they consume their landscape. They eat acorns, nuts and insects, but also dig up truffles, tubers and mushrooms, which absorb high levels of radioactive waste that drifted downwind from the power plant’s meltdown decades ago. In droves, the boars make their way to nearby towns, searching for a density of food in trash cans, park bins and alleys. Weighing in at around 400 pounds each and with tusks and unpredictable temperaments, they are given priority in urban areas. A wire-haired wildness is at odds with the orderly environments of small towns in which they find themselves.
Decades later, Chernobyl fades from memory. Generations have passed for people. But for the radioactive elements that the disaster unleashed, life is just beginning. The nuclear reactor fire lives on, but invisible. And the boar carries it with him. They carry the materiality of our failed technology and the indifference to the life of a radioactive isotope.
Perhaps we should pay more attention to our fictions. Godzilla, a manufactured prehistoric marine reptile monster powered by nuclear radiation, reminded Japan and the rest of the world that radioactive material is a beast that is more powerful and lives longer than humans can imagine. Godzilla makes the otherwise invisible nuclear threat visible. His overall indifference to humans makes him a fitting avatar for radioactive material.
The Godzilla movies spawned other notable monsters, including the huge radiant moth creature Mothra, accompanied by tiny humanoid twins who speak on behalf of the creature. Mothra appeared in 16 films, including: godzilla vs. mothra in 1964 and the remake in 1992 and Rebirth of Mothrawhich, like the rocky series, had some unfortunate sequels. Of the many Japanese monster movies, Mothra vs. Bagan never got beyond a screenplay, but it should have happened. Bagan is a huge multi-horned rhinoceros with wings, which thousands of years ago protected the earth from threats. Back to the present as Bagan is released from captivity in a glacier melting due to global warming. As a protector of nature, the monster sets out to destroy humanity, which is destroying the earth. Multitudes of people meet their doom while the rest beg for help. Mothra hears their screams and rushes to the rescue. But the help is short-lived, as Bagan defeats Mothra in what would be an epic scene for an actor wearing a latex costume and a puppet moth with cardboard wings. Now that the monster moth has been defeated, all seems lost. But on a remote island, one of the moth monster’s eggs hatches and a new Mothra is born. After several plot twists and suspense, young Mothra defeats Earth’s protector Bagan. While it is clear that the earth needs to be saved, we have a problem in killing ourselves for the betterment of the non-human world. It’s like Mothra vs. Bagan repeats itself over and over. While Bagan returns again and again, one day there may be no Mothra spawn to save humanity.