Monday, 6 May 2019

Chernobyl Review

Have you ever watched a show that stays with you long after the final credits have rolled? Staring in the face of disaster, knowing what could be done to save thousands of lives, and screaming angrily as the wrong decision is made by the wrong people that just leads to more tragedy and chaos?

I went into Chernobyl knowing nothing about the actual real life tragedy, and instead just simply trying to have a go at completing a HBO miniseries for once because whilst they tend to be quite stylish, they tend to lack a bit of everything else, and came away feeling deeply saddened for the tragedy that unfolds before our eyes but also unable to look away.

It's of course led by an all star cast of Stellan Skarsgård, Jared Harris, and Emily Watson playing scientists and bureaucrats trying to staunch a nuclear catastrophe and you can probably guess how well that works out.

The show begins with Valery Legasov recalling the not so glory days of the explosion and hiding the cassette tapes from the KGB. The show then goes back two years to said explosion which occurs after reactor #4 has blown up. The junior engineers are quick onto the case in trying to avert a crisis and raising the alarm for how serious the situation is, but their supervisor Anatoly Dyatlov rejects their warnings as claims of hysteria and his only way out is to get the water moving through the core. It is then that he is told that there is no core because it has exploded, but even with numerous junior engineers all recounting this same sorry tale, all that those around them want to do is bury their heads in the sands and pretend everything will be ok.

Chernobyl is a dark and murky show, with the Government who are entrusted to protect the people and make the right decisions for their safety deciding against doing any of that and cutting the town off from the rest of the world so as to not cause hysteria. When the point is made that doing this will actually cause the said hysteria that they're so worried about, they're shouted down because the Government always knows what is best for its people even when it doesn't. The Chernobyl incident might've happened in the 80's, but this is a mentality that many Governments all around the world still carry today, and that overriding sense of frustration at being so powerless never goes away.

To have any chance at all in making a show about such a catastrophic incident work, you need the best of the best actors and thankfully this show has it. Stellan Skarsgård & Jared Harris are two marvelous actors who have never failed to disappoint over the years. Portraying a character in the shows opening who is guilt-ridden and extremely paranoid isn't an easy thing for any actor to pull off, but Jared does it perfectly.

Chernobyl certainly isn't viewing for the light of heart, as the show digs into the aftermath of the explosion, providing accurate enough historical analysis on an event that devastated so many lives.