Chernobyl (2019) Mini-series: What is the cost of lies? -Review


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What is the cost of lies? How can a person go to a place knowing that it will kill them? These are the questions that remain with you after watching the “Chernobyl” series.

Today, 26th April 2020, a nuclear accident occurred that shook the world on this same day. “Chernobyl” is an HBO mini-series (5 episodes) based on the actual events of the world’s worst human-made catastrophe, an explosion at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, On 26th April 1986. Chernobyl mini-series follows Valery Legasov, the lead scientist, and Boris Shcherbina, a Soviet politician working together to control the disaster with the support of scientists, military, miners, firefighters, health workers, and so many people and also trying to uncover the truth about what really happened at Chernobyl.

Beneath the Chernobyl disaster, there is an iceberg of lies, ignorance, and corruption. Writer Craig Mazin subjectively shows the tragedy and unfolds the story brick by brick. He emphasizes individuals rather than focusing on a group of people, which places the audience in the characters’ shoes and their situations. For emotion and to simplify things, writer Craig Mazin added some fictional elements. Like fictional character Ulana Khomyuk representing a group of scientists, excellently played by Emily Watson. The screenplay and way of breaking episodes are flawlessly done to build tension in each episode.

Quote from Chernobyl – “To be a scientist is to be naive. We are so focused on our search for truth; we fail to consider how few actually want us to find it. But it is always there, whether we see it or not, whether we choose to or not.”

Director Johan Renck constantly kept the series grounded and pushed to realism even though it is horrifying, hurtful to see. The pile of dead human bodies and skin burns when exposed to 15000 roentgen radiation, slaughtering animals, and many upsetting things are shown in the series. The director never shied to show the horrifying truth that happened. Many exposition scenes describe how a nuclear power plant operates, how this disaster arose, the aftermath of the disaster, etc. expertly directed by Johan Renck.

In episode 3, three men divers enter contaminated water to open the valve of the tunnel, where we hear only the ticking sound of the Geiger counter is haunting. The sound editing and mixing are brilliantly used to build tension and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The cinematographer did a great job of capturing the emotions of the characters with close-up shots.

Lead Actor Jared Harris plays Valery Legasov, a Soviet inorganic chemist in nuclear physics. Stellan Skarsgard plays Boris Shcherbina, a politician. Both have given their lifetime performance, expressing the struggling emotions of dealing with this disaster, seeking the truth and despair of failure. All the performances they did paid off and justified the story. From hating each other at the beginning of the series to becoming the best comrades, the chemistry between them is stunning.

Legasov (scientist) to Boris (politician), “they heard me but listened to you.” Like both, I wish the government would listen and support our scientists, rather than ignoring science and denying the truth. Chernobyl was nominated for 19 Emmys and won seven awards, including best-limited series, best actor, cinematography, editing, and screenplay. It also won Golden Globe for best series.

Conclusion: If Chernobyl doesn’t make you ponder and keep you on the edge of your seats, I don’t know what will. Masterfully crafted from screenplay to final edit. The Chernobyl mini-series is a must-watch masterpiece. My rating is 9/10.

Director: Johan Renck
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård
Genre: Drama, History, Thriller


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