Chernobyl, When Humans Are the Enemy

Chernobyl has once again brought to the fore one of the greatest tragedies of modern times, the largest nuclear accident to date. At the time, the controversy unleashed alarms about the dangers of nuclear power and several myths surrounded the place. Years later, the nuclear power plant is back in the news and the success of the series has been overwhelming. What are its key points?
Chernobyl, When Humans Are the Enemy

Last update: 09 November, 2022

Chernobyl, the miniseries, was a hit. It’s about the most serious nuclear disaster in history and raised questions about some of the decisions authorities took during those fateful days.

Its transcendence is such that you can’t help but think about the present events and the consequences of another human-made environmental catastrophe.

Who are the perpetrators? Who are the victims? Chernobyl immerses you in the horror that followed that now distant fateful April 26, 1986. In fact, its consequences are still palpable.

There’s a ghost town, thousands of broken lives, and a government whose main priority was to remain silent. This political and tragic framework is what the HBO series offers. It’s a story about heroes but mainly about many mistakes and secrecy.

The aftermath of a catastrophe

The title of this article isn’t all that encouraging, but it was in fact humans who sort of contained the disaster and kept it from becoming greater. The series tries to honor them. The tragedy, already half-buried in the past, is now a topic of conversation again.

Most people know what the nuclear accident at the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin nuclear power plant near Pripyat (Ukraine) was and what it entailed. This event set off alarm bells about the dangers of a nuclear accident. Thus, this energy became a terrifying enemy despite being one of the cleanest.

The USSR was in the spotlight. Also, the press fed rumors about the diseases, mutations, and consequences of radioactivity.

Several researchers have postulated that the consequences weren’t as fatal as people were led to believe. Furthermore, giving an approximate figure of the number of victims is really difficult. Some studies do reflect an increase in thyroid cancer in the closest regions. These cases stemmed directly from the accident, though.

In Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, Svetlana Aleksievich compiled some testimonies of the survivors. In fact, her work greatly nourished the new HBO series. The unexpectedly sober, tragic, and moving story comes from the hand of a screenwriter rooted in a rather absurd comedy, Craig Mazin. Johan Renck, a music video director, is his main collaborator.

Chernobyl, the keys to its success

The series is of high quality on almost every level, perfectly portraying the era and narrating the events in a leisurely manner.

The three main characters came to life through the performances of Jared Harris as Valery Legasov. Stellan Skarsgård as Boris Shcherbina, and Emily Watson as Ulana Khomyuk are also part of the cast. The first two toke on the role of two fundamental characters in the history of the catastrophe. Furthermore, the character of Ulana Khomyuk was a tribute to all the scientists who supported Legasov.

Chernobyl presents two fundamental arguments:

  1. A clearly political plot that revealed the ins and outs of the USSR, the secrecy and deception to which they subjected their population.
  2. The purely human and devastating stories about the real victims and heroes of that April 26, 1986.

In a dramatic key, but without moving away from the intrigues of power, there’s the hermeticism of the Soviet Union. In addition, making use of some elements one could easily find in a horror film, Chernobyl presented a reality that surpasses fiction.

Cold colors supplement a miniseries in which there’s not much room for hope. In fact, the Soviet Union is portrayed through such coldness. Still, even in the midst of the disaster, some characters manage to bring some light. For instance, there’s the selfless courage of the miners, the sacrifice of the volunteers, the firefighters, etc. In short, all of those ordinary men risked their lives to save those of thousands.

Why was Chernobyl successful?

Mainly because it stirred human conscience in a historical past that’s still close. One that most people remember along with Fukushima. The series described the presence of the invisible and silent killer in detail. The viewer comes to understand the magnitude of the disaster in a simple way.

Keep in mind that this is a British and American co-production. Thus, it’s their own version of events being broadcast through a streaming platform. One that Russians didn’t agree with, by the way.

Chernobyl used a cinematographic language to which people are used to. Moreover, it resorted to elements known to the general public. The main “but” is the fact that it seems to please everyone and the vision is definitely biased.

It’s definitely an outstanding series with a hint of melodrama. Also, some elements are a little forced and some secondary characters lack depth. Still, there’s no doubt about its quality and success. It brought back to the table an issue that humans must never forget.

A group of dirty workers.

The heroes and the victims of Chernobyl

Human passage through the world is devastating. At least that’s the feeling one gets after watching Chernobyl and then investigating a bit about the current state of the exclusion zone. The heartbreaking scenes reveal that humans weren’t the only victims of the tragedy. In fact, there were many other silent victims.

We’re referring to the killed animals, of course. This is because those who survived gave rise to others that are still there despite the radioactivity and without human intervention. The series places their awful reality before your eyes. It showed the tragedy of those who truly know how to coexist in nature.

The series doesn’t leave the men who gave their lives to control the situation behind. For instance, there’s Vasily, a firefighter with an overwhelming story. His is just a small example of the human tragedy that Chernobyl entailed. In short, the series is a sort of tribute to the heroes and victims of the catastrophe and human selfishness. It doesn’t fail to pass judgment on those who did little to nothing to prevent it.

Finally, remembering that which was once the most dangerous day in the world, one realizes the many of the lies of the powers that be. As you can see, radioactivity isn’t humans’ most dangerous enemy, but other greedy humans.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.