After the ending of GoT, which left us with mixed feelings, I wondered if HBO would be able pull itself from the “hole”, which the notorious D&D (not Dungeons and Dragons) screenwriters created. The truth is that many viewers were disappointed, not because of the finish itself but because how fast it was wrapped in 6 episodes. And suddenly Chernobyl appeared. A series, based on the most terrible accident human history. We, the so-called Eastern Block, have experienced it to a great extent, which makes us somehow connected to it. So, the question I asked, was did HBO manage to redeem its guilt for the disappointing ending of GoT?
The answer to this question lies in the details. Over the years, Hollywood has produced several depictions of the events that led to the nuclear accident, but somehow a movie can not recreate the complete scale of the tragedy. So, HBO decided to create the Chernobyl miniseries, which is taking place on the night of the tragedy and the following months, telling how the then USSR coped with it. There is hardly anyone who has not heard of the Chernobyl accident, but if there is, the next lines are for him.
On April 26, 1986, at 1:23:40 am (Moscow time), during a safety test, the 4th reactor of Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, exposing the core of the nuclear reaction itself, and emitting tons of radioactive particles (radionucleotides) into the atmosphere. The zone most affected by it was 2500 square meters. The reasons for the accident are two. One is a human error dictated by the Soviet obsession to be a leading energy power, and the second is a factory defect of this type of reactors, which, unfortunately, was “omitted” by the central committee. Whatever the situation, the truth is that there is no one culprit, responsible for the tragedy. In the process of the review, I will examine the authenticity of the production and how much it responds to the real events that happened on that fateful night.
As a mini-series, the whole story is wrapped in 5 episodes. It begins at the time of the explosion and ends several years after it. The story covers the events around the discovery of the problem and the reaction of communist party to it. The series was shot in Lithuania, giving Soviet authenticity to the production. The NPP itself is actually Ignalina, which is often referred to as the “Chernobyl’s Sister” because of the similar size, construction and type of reactors. The reactor itself is so-called RBMK, which is a graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor. It can achieve great energy productivity, which has made it a major energy source for the former USSR. But let’s look at the authenticity of the series in detail.
From the very beginning, we get a strong reminder of the Soviet reality. White working aprons, wooden squeezing doors with large windows, marble tiles, panel blocks, playgrounds, Russian cars, etc. So much attention has been paid to the details that even the posters and notices are in Russian. The only “things” that shows the origin of the production are the actors’s speaking language. They speak English, although their names are in Russian. There are critics who say this is a problem, but I personally find it necessary. British and American actors can’t speak in pure Russian. Besides, having in mind the depth of the narrative, this is the only element that brings you back to reality.
The cast is also extremely strong, with everyone playing their role perfectly. You will recognize most of the British film school, which is probably one of the best in the world. The already strong cast is completed with Bil Skarsgard, who just can’t slip by unrecognized anymore, considering that all his sons play in huge Hollywood productions. I won’t go into detail because this article is long enough already, but there is definitely no point in which, at least one of the actors doesn’t takes domination of the screen.
In general, the director has tried to achieve maximum authenticity and has succeeded. Personally, I have recognized much of my childhood in this film. One can not deny that the drama is slightly exaggerated, but there is no other way for this tragedy to be transferred to the screen. The presentation of each action has been verified to be transmitted in the most authentic way. From the arrogance of Chief Engineer Anatoly Dyatlov, who is the main person to blame, for the incident, to the severe scenes involving the radiation poisoning of the firefighters who arrived first and fought the fire blazing all over the NPP. Some scenes are pretty graphic and not for people with weak hearts, but that was the reality.
They say the actual number of victims was between 5,000 and 96,000. These figures include people who have not been evacuated in time and have died of radiation poisoning. Unfortunately, since the USSR has not kept a list, the exact number is unknown. Nevertheless, despite the victims, the USSR managed to prevent even worse consequences, thanks to Prof. Valery Legasov and the Energy Minister Boris Shcherbina. Consequently, the defect was corrected in other reactors, thanks to them.
In conclusion, I will only say that the rating of the series in IMDB, of 9.7, is completely deserved. This is the highest rated series and with right. The authentic presentation of events is only part of the puzzle, making it one of the best documentaries in general. You just can’t stop yourself from shivering, when hearing the covenant “VNIMANIE, VNIMANIE!”. I strongly recommend it with two hands.