When I started watching Chernobyl, I had not heard the amount of praise it was getting, especially not that it had become the number one rated show on IMDB.
However, after watching the five episode miniseries, I can honestly say I am not surprised it achieved this.
Chernobyl is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece that is incredibly crafted from start to finish.
Covering the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, the miniseries is directed by Johan Renck, and written by Craig Mazin.
Mazin is surprising because because he has written some of the Scary Movie films, both The Hangover sequels, and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, to name a few, and these are not very good in my opinion.
So, it is great to see him go from writing films that I do not like to writing this incredible miniseries.
I felt so many different emotions across all five episodes from horror, to anger, to sadness, to flat out disbelief at what was happening.
I remember watching a documentary about the Chernobyl accident a while back, so I did know a bit of the story going in but I was still not prepared.
The first episode, “1:23:45”, details the immediate aftermath of the explosion at the power plant and the beginning of Soviet attempts to suppress what was happening while even they do not know the full scale of the event.
The next three episoes, “Please Remain Calm”, “Open Wide, O Earth” and “The Happiness of All Mankind” showcase the struggles of officials Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) and Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård), and nuclear physicist Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) to prevent further catastrophe.
The final episode, “Vichnaya Pamyat” is a court case about the causes of the disaster and the push to expose the truth.
All of these episodes are thrilling, with every actor giving a fantastic performance.
Everything about Chernobyl just comes together, including the cinematography, the music, the CGI and the make-up effects.
Speaking of, boy, are those make-up effects horrifying, with them detailing the extent and extreme agony the victims of radiation poisoning go through in excrutiating detail.
If I had to sum up Chernobyl in one word it would be terrifying.
The way the miniseries shows the effects of radiation poisoning is terrifying.
The absolutely nail biting sequences where people work in extremely radioactive conditions, with only the sound of their Geiger Counter’s exploding with noise to be heard, are terrifying.
The mistakes and incompetent decisions, not just before the disaster but also in the aftermath, causing further tragedy, are terrifying.
The scene that will inevitably stick with me the most, though, is at the end of episode one when the deputy chief operational engineer of Chernobyl, Anatoly Sitnikov (Jamie Sives), is sent to look at the reactor from the roof.
I will not say what happens during to this scene, or to Sitnikov, but it is such a gut punch of a moment with Sives’ expression selling the tragedy of the scene perfectly.
As for whether Chernobyl adapts the whole truth of the disaster, there obviously had to be some liberties taken, and things cut out, to adapt the story in this format.
Khomyuk’s character, for example, is completely fictional but used as a representation of all the scientists who helped after the accident, which is nice.
I also doubt that one of the main contributors to the disaster Anatoly Dyatlov (Paul Ritter) was as cruel as he was made out to be here.
Then there are the accents, with no attempt to sound Russian or Ukranian being made.
However, the explanation for this is definitely valid because it was better for the accents not to be addressed rather than risking getting terrible fake sounding ones.
As for Dyatlov, his unlikable nature does not affect the miniseries in a negative way, even though I wish they had made him a bit more relatable.
So, overall, the changes to history are well done with the magnitude of the event and those affected by it being treated with respect.
Chernobyl is an absolutely fantastic miniseries.
It will make you feel sad, angry, and often horrified, with you being left on the edge of your seat throughout.
It is easily deserving of all the awards once the time comes.
If you have not seen Chernobyl yet then I must ask you “where have you been?” before advising you to go and watch it.