Chernobyl_2019_MiniseriesI really must bring this TV mini-series to your attention. Chernobyl is a superb five-part historical TV drama co-produced by HBO and Sky UK. It is about the events that led to and the aftermath of the nuclear reactor disaster that occurred in north Ukraine on April 26th 1986. The story focuses mostly on the scientist Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris) who is sent to the site of the disaster, along with the Council of Ministers’ deputy chairman Boris Shcherbina (played by Stellan Skarsgård), to assess the damage and oversee the cleanup effort. Legasov also ask his colleague Ulana Khomyuk to investigate the cause of the reactor explosion. 

The storytelling is surprisingly accurate (although a few facts were tweeked for dramatization purpose). It tells a dark, somber story but, on top of that, the ambiance of the show itself (the sets that look like you were really in the 80s soviet era, the solemn music, the slow pace of the show) create a dark, oppressive (almost horrific) feeling that is quite depressive. However, that’s what makes the show so spot on. 

The accuracy is such that even the selected actors looks like the part (although they are — and speak — mostly British English, but the acting is so good that you don’t really care). The only character that didn’t historically exist was Ulana Khomyuk (played by Emily Watson) which was created as a composite character representing all the scientists that worked along Valery Legasov. They even shot in Ukraine and Lithuania to get the soviet vibe of the location. The last episode concludes with a “where are they now”-style epilogue that explains what happened after and shows real footage of the characters and events (on a backdrop of gloomy Russian chorus). It is really chilling!

It is an incredible miniseries, very well crafted, visually stunning in how everything look so drab and grey, quite compelling and that rings so true. It shows the extent of the human stupidity and the deep flaws of the USSR society and political system. However, the message is also extremely pertinent for today as it poses the question “What is the cost of lies?” (in an obvious reference to the Trump White House)… A must see.

I am not the only one who greatly appreciated this series as it was very well received by the critics (ratings of 9.6 on IMDb and of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes). To learn more about this series you can check the accompanying podcast where screenwriter Craig Mazin discuss the production (available on Youtube, Spotify or Apple) and the series is still available for streaming on HBO.stars-4-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbWikipedia ]

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