24 votes

HBO Chernobyl miniseries discussion

Thought a thread for this miniseries would be good, as I've only seen discussion of the trailer up here. As of today (16th May) there are two episodes out, and a companion podcast for each (though I've not listened to these yet)
I just watched both back to back, and I'm blown away. This is some very well made television, and somehow manages to be simultaneously nightmarish, and fully gripping. That this is based on real events is all the more amazing to me, and after watching the revelation about the exploding water tanks in the second episode I'm astonished that the world is as unscathed by this disaster as it is.

11 comments

  1. [3]
    krg Link
    Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich is a must-read if the issues surrounding the disaster interest you. It's sad as hell.

    Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich is a must-read if the issues surrounding the disaster interest you. It's sad as hell.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      bilbodwyer Link Parent
      Oh thanks! Added that to my "to read" pile

      Oh thanks! Added that to my "to read" pile

      1 vote
      1. krg Link Parent
        You might not be thanking me when you get to certain parts... T_T

        You might not be thanking me when you get to certain parts... T_T

        2 votes
  2. [3]
    Loire Link
    Not only is it real but it's still technically on going. The damaged reactor still exists, with something like 95% of its radioactive material still in place. The original sarcophagus was hastily...

    That this is based on real events is all the more amazing to me

    Not only is it real but it's still technically on going.

    The damaged reactor still exists, with something like 95% of its radioactive material still in place. The original sarcophagus was hastily erected and only designed to last 30 years, it's been 35. Fortunately a new containment shelter is nearing completion. This new shelter will allow for Ukraine (should they locate the finds) to finally begin dismantling the reactor.

    Almost four decades later and the legacy of Chernoby lives on.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      Cosmos Link Parent
      A few scenes I still can't believe actually happened. The helicopter flying straight into the reactor cloud and crashing. The scenes from the fist episode from the bunker with the old man's...

      A few scenes I still can't believe actually happened. The helicopter flying straight into the reactor cloud and crashing. The scenes from the fist episode from the bunker with the old man's communist speech, and the guy talking about how this isn't a big deal before keeling over from radiation poisoning. And the suicide mission at the end of the second episode.

      4 votes
      1. Loire Link Parent
        The thing about radiation is that it is such a silent killer. I work with Cs-137 often (I believe that's the same material as what was at Chernobyl) and one story that goes around my industry is...

        The thing about radiation is that it is such a silent killer.

        I work with Cs-137 often (I believe that's the same material as what was at Chernobyl) and one story that goes around my industry is how the handlers accidentally left the source behind on a jobsite with run of the mill workers. One of those people thought it looked cool and pocketed it for a week. A couple of days later he is fatigued and nauseated. Sometime later his skin is sloughing off where he pocketed the source. He didn't feel a thing until the effects kicked in.

        In another industry that uses significantly stronger sources (neutron I believe) a rookie pulled a source and wrapped it around his neck to carry it. He had it around his neck for less than ten minutes and didn't feel a thing. By the end of the day his neck and shoulders were bubbling and sloughing. He eventually died due to acute exposure.

        The character in Chernobyl should have known better but when you are being willfully ignorant it's easy to think nothing is truly the matter with radiation. You just can't tell it's happening to you until it's too late.

        5 votes
  3. Cosmos Link
    What I love about this show it is not just about the disaster itself, but also the serious flaws with the communist government. It makes it clear that it wasn't just the disaster itself that made...

    What I love about this show it is not just about the disaster itself, but also the serious flaws with the communist government. It makes it clear that it wasn't just the disaster itself that made this disaster so devastating, but also the culture that led to terrible decision making in the aftermath.

    5 votes
  4. ras Link
    The end of episode two was one of the scariest things I've seen on television. It played right into several of my fears.

    The end of episode two was one of the scariest things I've seen on television. It played right into several of my fears.

    3 votes
  5. intuxikated Link
    I really enjoyed it so far. The darkish shade of the shots really does it for me. Although I enjoyed every scene, I felt like they are moving the story very slowly. Like, they are stretching out...

    I really enjoyed it so far. The darkish shade of the shots really does it for me. Although I enjoyed every scene, I felt like they are moving the story very slowly. Like, they are stretching out lot of incidents but it doesn't feel like it until we try to recap what happened in the last episode.
    Also, can anyone suggest similar movies/series which are based on disaster events?

    2 votes
  6. kfwyre Link
    I just finished the series. Spoilers ahead. I thought it was incredibly well done. They did a great job of compressing a whole lot into five episodes without any of them feeling rushed. I also...

    I just finished the series. Spoilers ahead.

    I thought it was incredibly well done. They did a great job of compressing a whole lot into five episodes without any of them feeling rushed. I also thought it was wonderfully shot. Everything had a sort of austere beauty to it. I don't have the film vocabulary to really analyze it, but everything from the sets, to the color, to the lighting, to the framing of certain scenes was very visually compelling.

    I've read Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl (which is excellent) and Grigori Medvedev The Truth About Chernobyl (which is also excellent but was a bit too technical for me to truly appreciate), and the show felt like it captured pieces of both of those. Alexievich's book captures the on-the-ground, individual perspectives of the everday people affected and at times feels like dystopian fiction despite being uncomfortably real. Medvedev's book, meanwhile, captured a lot of the higher-level procedural and bureaucratic issues that the series also depicted.

    As someone without a strong background or understanding of the operation of nuclear reactors (as I would imagine most are), I greatly appreciated Legasov's explanation and visual aid during the last episode. It made for an easy, simple to understand rundown of what occurred, better than any else I've seen. It was also appropriately dramatic for the final episode, closing the central mystery that the show opens in the first episode. Very compelling, and it was but one of the series' many scenes of comparable heft and skill. The killing of the dogs in episode 4 was particularly difficult to watch, as was the excursion into the tunnels underneath the reactor at the end of episode 2--not to mention the constant unbreaking tension of radiation exposure and its horrific effects on those most exposed.

    I also thought the series, while not particularly anvilicious, can be applied to modern society in a lot of different ways should you choose to do so. The show's portrayal of powerful people ignoring scientific understanding and warnings could be used as a metaphor for climate change, while the show's theme that there is a real truth no matter what lies you tell could apply to contemporary online and political discourse, where so much is to be distrusted.

    Overall I thought it was an excellent series. Apparently the writer did a podcast where he discussed adapting the show from his source material, so I'm looking forward to diving into that and learning more about what was based in truth and was created just for the show (e.g. Khomyuk's character).

    2 votes
  7. mrbig Link
    Time for some Pirate Bay to pay as much as they want for cable.

    Time for some Pirate Bay to pay as much as they want for cable.

    1 vote