Chernobyl ★★★★★

Channel: HBO and Sky
Starring: Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Paul Ritter, Jessie Buckley, Adam Nagaitis, Con O’Neil, David Dencik, Alan Williams and others
Creator: Craig Mazin
IMDb Rating | 9.6
Humpo Show Rating | 10.0

Chernobyl review

In April 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics becomes one of the world’s worst man-made catastrophes. Chernobyl follows the events that preceded the disaster, the disaster itself and the cover up and lies that followed the awful event.

“What is the cost of lies?”

It’s not often when you’re watching a TV show or a film, or even reading a book, to think, ‘this is going to be considered a classic’. But in Chernobyl, I have this very rare thought, which I have only had for a few films like Inception and Interstellar, and for TV shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld. Chernobyl separates itself from the others I’ve mentioned and any other recent TV show for that matter, in that it is depicting real events, and as it so often proves, life is more thrilling and heart-wrenching than fiction.

Every single episode is 10/10 – I can’t find fault from any aspect of the show. The acting is flawless, each and every one of them made it feel so real. Jared Harris, who I know best as Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, is absolutely outstanding as Soviet physicist Valery Legasov. Harris is complemented by Stellan Skarsgård as Boris Shcherbina, who served as a vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers during the Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath. The pair make an excellent double act, with Harris playing the honest physicist who is trying his upmost to resolve the disaster and to save as many as possible, in spite of Soviet Russia’s poisoned system. Skarsgård portrays the senior man who understands the system better in a very believable way – he just oozes authority. He also delivers a rousing speech in the search for volunteers to help fix the water valves despite the prospect of certain death that awaits them. Spine-tingling stuff.

The cinematography, sound editing, script, direction, pretty much everything is exceptional. The use of radiation detector noises was extremely effective in ramping up the tension, most notably when the episode that finished with the three men entering the nuclear power plant to mend the water valves. These sounds work so well with the lighting that come with the interior of Chernobyl helps to create an eerie mood, which fits perfectly with the events that have happened. I was also mightily impressed with the wide shots of the nuclear facility following the explosion – the spectacle and sheer size of the problem was encapsulated perfectly in these scenes.

Before watching the TV show I knew the rough version of events, but I did not know much about the cover up and the day by day events that occurred and the decisions that were made. Nowadays, when a disaster happens, we get minute-by-minute updates, but in Soviet-era Russia, information is not shared so widely and the truth is kept far away from world. That is a theme that flows through the show – the lies, corruption and cover up is what defined Soviet Russia. The same can be said of modern Russia, can the lessons be learned? Time will tell.

Chernobyl is excellent and important viewing. A must-watch that is up there with the best TV shows of all time,

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