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Why is Chernobyl worth watching?

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Series “Chernobyl” 2019 tells about the first days of the disaster, the measures taken to eliminate the consequences, and the heroes, the super-heroes – ordinary Soviet citizens who, literally, at the cost of their lives saved the world. And, yes, in this case, pathos is appropriate.

The catastrophe of the 20th century

Chernobyl is a 16th century city on the Pripyat River. The first nuclear power plant in Ukraine was built here in the 1970s. And in 1986, the world’s largest man-made disaster occurred. Chernobyl is not only our problem and “problem”. After the explosion, there was a high level of radiation, practically all over Europe, which was covered with radioactive ash: there was a threat of ecological catastrophe in Germany, Finland, Norway, not to mention the Soviet cities of millionaires, Kiev, Minsk. This was the first accident of its kind: not only was there a thermonuclear explosion that destroyed the floor of the plant. There was an unquenchable fire that threatened to cause even bigger problems.

It is terrible to read the details of this tragedy, but it has been 30 years already. What were the people, the power plant workers, who were in the middle of the explosion? They could not believe what had happened. It was believed that the power unit could not explode. When the system broke down and it became clear that this was an emergency, some employees were sent to shut down the reactor manually. Firefighters were called in. At the same time, the other two reactors continued to operate as usual, and all employees were in their places.

So the first episode of Chernobyl looks like a thriller. The degree of emotional tension and the level of shitting is off the charts. The first minutes, hours, days after the accident were the most important. Some of the bosses understand this, while others waste time on distrust, or, conversely, on an excessive belief in the Union, that “we” cannot have a reactor explosion. Hallelujah.

It will then be a lot of talk about what exactly we did wrong. How radioactive was the graphite scattered around the area. How badly the firefighters, engineers, soldiers, residents of Pripyat were exposed to radiation. In April/May 1986, scientists, important chiefs, miners, and specialists from various fields faced a problem that had never existed before. It was necessary to invent ways to fight the threat under the most stressful conditions, although each attempt cost hundreds of lives. Imagine: you are told that you need to get gold at the Olympics at the first time, and if you do not win, you will die, your entire class, cat and dog will die. Something like that.

The credibility of Chernobyl HBO

Despite the fact that the script of the mini-series was written by the author of the bachelor party in Vegas 2 and 3, it turned out a great story, which you believe. The film is perceived as a documentary. Soviet officials argue like Soviet officials. Donbas miners are harsh and determined. Soviet wives are always ready to repeat the feat of Decembrist wives. And, not a single mechanic, not a single soldier will save millions of lives in danger.

Many of the moments, actions, actions and orders shown in the American HBO series are confirmed by eyewitness accounts published in the public domain. Cranberries, of course, are also present. It adds to the unnecessary comedy. “See that guy? He’s watching me. There are others who are watching him” – constant references to surveillance, KGB secrets, the ubiquitous word “comrade”, guards with machine guns, and the episode with the German robot – these are trifles that can be ignored.

Added female characters. Some of the dialogues and events are designed to enhance the effect of melodramaticity, but it is only to the benefit of history. Being recreated in detail, some phrases very clearly convey the mentality of our citizens.

The director wanted to show the tragedy through the eyes of ordinary people, and he did it well. People are real, full-blooded. Even it seems that the series is more Russian than foreign, because, despite the disaster, you feel proud of the Soviet people. Here, officials are told: “Go to the reactor!” And they immediately leave, and live near the reactor for months, realizing that they halve their lives. Here, the workers are offered rabid money to get into the radioactive water, and they agree to this feat only when they say that if they don’t do it, millions of people can die.

The result is

It was a documentary film with artistic elements about a catastrophic mistake and an inspiring feat.

Watching to everyone, even those who think they don’t like dramas. It’s not just a drama. It’s our story to remember.


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Cheryl K Fulmer
My name is Cheryl K. Fulmer. I am an environmentalist and the author of this blog. I believe that people act more environmentally friendly when they have available and simple solutions for this, which do not require significant effort, do not complicate life and do not reduce its quality.