Cobra Mist

Published June 9, 2009 by Molly


It’s either a monument to our mistakes or a testament to our triumphs– I’m not sure which. Cobra Mist is a 16mm anamorphic film by Emily Richardson, a filmmaker living in London. The subject of the film is a closed nuclear testing site and nature reserve located on the Suffolk coast of Great Britain, with an appropriately spooky name: Orford Ness.

Acquired in large part by the War Department in 1913, the area was drained to form an airfield and used for hush-hush military experimentation for seven decades. This period saw the construction of such buildings as the Bomb Ballistics Building and Black Beacon, as well as rocket and radar testing. In 1993 the zone was purchased from the Ministry of Defence and repurposed as a nature sanctuary. Tourism is now encouraged.

Richardson’s film, which is named after a coded backscatter radar project that took place in the region, takes a hard look at the area using time lapse and motion control techniques. The film is unnerving, troublesome and lovely; a bit like moving at light speed through a post-apocalyptic landscape. Watch it here.

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