Author Andrew Leatherbarrow, who spent five years researching the disaster for his book. In the end, they didn't need to. The miniseries implying that radiation is contagious like a virus is essentially zombie logic, that anyone who suffers from radiation poisoning is therefore poisonous themselves. It's hard to say how many millions more lives could have been saved if fact and not fiction had won the battle for the public's perception of nuclear energy. The series certainly implies his death was the result of radiation exposure, but in reality, an official cause of death for Shcherbina has never been released. There are other survivors who watched from the bridge and offer similar accounts as to what they saw. But some volunteered to go twice or even three times," says General Nikolai Tarakanov, portrayed by Ralph Ineson in the HBO show. Very early on in Episode 1 of Chernobyl, a scene shows many of the townspeople gathering on a railroad overpass to watch. ... As can be seen from this side-by-side footage of the actual event and HBO… Posted by 1 year ago. A top US medical doctor who treated radiation victims in Chernobyl has criticized HBO’s depiction of the accident and radiation’s health effects as inaccurate and “dangerous.” No. What's not shown in the miniseries is that Legasov had attempted suicide prior and recovered in the hospital. Disregarding the images that have clearly been Photoshopped, many display the effects of other diseases and conditions that people have blamed the Chernobyl disaster for. The initial fear of birth defects became so bad that women who lived in areas that were subjected to low levels of Chernobyl radiation terminated 100,000 to 200,000 pregnancies in a panic. That is how we keep the people from undermining the fruits of their own labor." And cut the phone lines. From the production to the writing to the acting, it is unquestionably a great watch. This is another case of the writers smartly keeping things clean and easy for audiences to understand the complicated nature of the trial and the very complicated scientific process that produces nuclear fission. Their scenes together are entirely imagined, and the part they played in the response to the disaster was reworked and amplified to keep the plot moving along. And now I'm in charge." Chernobyl has been a critical success on HBO, we spoke to experts in the nuclear industry about how accurate the show actually was. In the HBO miniseries, Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) attempts to explain to Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) and the pilot that if they fly over the reactor, either the radiation they'll be exposed to will quickly kill them or the electronics on the helicopter will be destroyed and it will fall from the sky. Fans of the show took to Twitter to express similar fears, with some Googling the closest nuclear power plants. The firefighters also reportedly complained of tasting metal as they battled the fire. A short time later, they watch as a helicopter assigned to drop a mixture of sand, clay and boron heads over the reactor. According to his daughter, Inga Legasova, he was indeed seriously ill with radiation sickness during the last few months of his life (RT News). Yes. Though there is evidence that the real Dyatlov was hoping for a promotion, he is largely a fictionalized villain. Before building began, the area was covered in two meters of uncontaminated soil. We're told this by Jared Harris's character, scientist Valery Legasov, who says that radiation is like "a bullet" and Chernobyl is like "three trillion bullets in the air, water and food... that won't stop firing for 50,000 years." In the wake of widespread cancellations after the Game Of Thrones finale, HBO has immediately proved that it still is going to putting out great content. Copyright © 2020 HistoryvsHollywood.com, CTF Media. "I have watched a lot of gore and horror, but this takes it over the top. -Chernobyl PodcastWith this perhaps being the biggest deviation from the Chernobyl true story, it's evident that Legasov wasn't the martyr figure that the miniseries makes him out to be. At the end of Episode 5, in the epilogue, the show states “Of the people who watched from the railway bridge, it has been reported that none survived. They're covered in a cloud of radioactive ash and dust that is blowing their way. He responds, "Yes, I worked in a shoe factory. In reality, it lasted several weeks and involved lots of people who were never introduced in the series. In Episode 2, Emily Watson's character, Ulyana Khomyuk, tells an apparatchik (Communist Party official), "I am a nuclear physicist. This would reduce the heat of the "lava" and prevent it from burning through the concrete pad and entering the water table. Despite being told it would be temporary, it is still forbidden to return. Contain the spread of misinformation. The only evidence is a photo of the two men looking at each other and smiling. We knew it was something terrifying." He would have been calling home to his wife and family while he was at Chernobyl, but they're entirely omitted from the story.From various aspects of the clothing, such as the rivets in the firefighters uniforms, to the vehicles and their license plates, the miniseries is meticulous in its historical accuracy with regard to such details, minus a few. No. -Forbes. Ulana Khomyuk, played by Emily Watson in Chernobyl, is not based on one real person, unlike most of the other main players in the story. a plant worker asks early in the miniseries. The trial was heavily compressed for the film. As depicted in this footage of the Chernobyl helicopter crash, the chopper's blades struck a chain that was hanging from a construction crane. In real life, how it affected their health would have depended on how long each resident remained outside watching and how much radioactive debris was actually reaching them during that time. The show's creator, Craig Mazin, said that he was never able to find out how Legasov disseminated the tapes, so he just fictionalized it by having a confederate come pick them up. Series maker Craig Mazin explained that the intention was to make the events that unfolded in the show as true to the actual nuclear catastrophe as possible, according to a podcast he did about the series. In the HBO miniseries, Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) testifies at the trial and places part of the blame on the Soviet state's "cheap" nuclear reactors. In the miniseries, Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) repeatedly warns Soviet politician Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) that the radiation will shorten his life. However, dozens of employees still work there, monitoring the electrical switches since the plant is still part of the grid. The truth is that Legosov presented his evidence at another time. He and his wife do wonder if the exposure is what led to their daughter Tatiana developing asthma two years later and ultimately dying from the condition at age 19. None of the men served a complete sentence, in part due to health reasons. The Chernobyl miners faced certain death to dig a tunnel. They were then sent away from Chernobyl. Was the negligence of Human life by the Soviet State and it’s members this bad ? It's possible that the bleeding may be foreshadowing the severe radiation burns that over time gnawed away at the flesh on his hip, calf, left shoulder and left arm, the areas of his body that had come into contact with the door. ... as told in an HBO/Sky miniseries, has received the highest ever score for a TV show on the film website IMDB. Its writer hopes you don’t think it’s the whole truth. The show's creator, Craig Mazin, says that the photo is what inspired their fictional friendship in the miniseries. According to Wikipedia, the HBO version seems more accurate than Midnight in Chernobyl. The final trial was very different in real life. That's a good message to include to set the record straight for all the Chernobyl viewers. If he did bleed, it would have had to have been due to thermal burns from the fires, steam burns, or where the hot steel door came into contact with his skin. You can hear his own account of the events in this Anatoly Dyatlov interview. However, the lava never reached the pad. No. Mazin and the other producers did an amazing amount of research as the prepared to make the miniseries and it shows, but of course, not everything is 100% accurate. In the miniseries, Pripyat residents gather on the bridge, which is roughly a kilometer away from the plant, to watch the clouds of smoke and rays of blue ionizing light beaming into the sky. Ad. "I could see the ruins of the reactor. "Only one was mandatory. It’s a brilliant piece of storytelling and an excellent way to keep the cause a mystery until the conclusion. Nuclear reactors can produce a blue hue from Cherenkov radiation, but that's not what caused the unique light. His big moment in court in the miniseries is fiction. The true story reveals that a few of them didn't have helmets and some of them didn't have jackets, so they were just walking around in t-shirts. They were nothing like that," says former Chernobyl engineer Oleksiy Breus of the historical accuracy surrounding the show's three main antagonists. Soviet and Ukrainian records are notoriously poor and no one really knows how many people were affected by the radiation emitted during the accident, nor are there accurate studies showing the long-term effects, but there is significant evidence that the fallout has not been as deadly as it was anticipated to be, and it’s highly unlikely that everyone on the bridge was fatally affected. -ForbesTo put things into perspective, the most severe energy disaster was the 1975 collapse of the Banqiao Hydroelectric Dam in China, which killed between 170,000 and 230,000 people. -Business Insider. The events and following aftermath changed the world forever — so it's no wonder HBO and Sky's new series "Chernobyl" has been met with such phenomenal intrigue. Today, the stories about The Bridge of Death are widely considered to be more urban legend than fact, in part perpetuated by the odd tourist industry that has sprung up in the Exclusion Zone.What we know from a simple Chernobyl fact check is that not every single person who watched from the bridge died from radiation poisoning. He concluded that Chernobyl was the "apotheosis of all that was wrong in the management of the national economy and had been so for many decades. Even the miniseries' writer and creator, Craig Mazin, said that there were varying accounts of how many articles of clothing actually came off, in addition to the number of miners who took off clothing. Author Michael Shellenberger, the president of Environmental Progress who also writes about energy and the environment for publications like The New York Times and Forbes, says that nuclear disasters like Chernobyl are fictionalized because in reality they kill a relatively small number of people when compared to other man-made disasters. Natasha Yuvchenko, wife of Chernobyl engineer Alexander Yuvchenko (the man who held the steel door open), says that for many years people literally ran away from them, afraid of being contaminated (The Guardian).In addition, those who were exposed to elevated radiation outside the vicinity of Chernobyl were four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. No. They wouldn't have gone around threatening to kill everyone as they attempted to deal with the Chernobyl disaster. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster#Conditions] The test plan called for a gradual decrease in power output from reactor 4 to a … He broke his glasses and tried to slit his wrists with a piece of lens, which delayed the trial. By using a character that audiences were already familiar with to explain what happened in a very basic way, it was much easier to digest the information. The United Nations report attributes 31 deaths directly to the disaster. Most notably, Jared Harris’ character, Valery Legasov, was not actually at the trial and did not present the damning evidence that convicted the men responsible for the failed test that caused the explosion and meltdown. "He gave us 24 hours to gather our belongings," says miner Vladimir Naumov (, Lyudmilla Ignatenko did lose her husband and four-hour-old baby. It is impossible to know to what extent his death was the result of radiation, but General Nikolai Tarakanov, who was in charge of the liquidators and knew Shcherbina "very well," said that Shcherbina "exposed himself to large doses of radiation, being the head of the government commission" (RT News). HBO’s Chernobyl is a terrific miniseries. That miniseries will likely never be made. This is fictional. HBO’s Chernobyl Review: A gripping true story that feels like a horror film. The Soviet press simply said that he passed away after "a serious illness" (Express.co.uk). This includes the helicopter crash, the miners digging under the reactor, and the biorobots clearing the roof. Many of those scientists, like Ulana in the show, were the first to speak out against the dangers that the reactors like the ones in Chernobyl were dangerous. The miniseries also exaggerates the delayed response and the denial of the Soviet government. Discover schedule information, behind the scenes exclusives, podcast information and more. Alas, the trial is not exactly historically accurate. This was another conscious choice by Chernobyl’s creators. -The New York Times, There is little evidence that scientist Valery Legasov and the chairman of the Chernobyl commission, Boris Shcherbina, developed a close friendship. Most of the artistic liberties taken by Chernobyl’s creators were cleaned up and explained in the epilogue, but this urban legend remained. He was 51. It takes decades to fully decommission a nuclear power plant. The other three reactors continued to operate after the accident. Nobody gave us any information but we knew it was serious. Chernobyl concludes with a dramatic trial that mixes in flashbacks to the accident with audiences seeing the cause for the first time from inside the power plant. How did the cast and creators make history come alive? It was named Slavutych. Chernobyl, a 5-part series on HBO with 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, will have its season finale tonight at 9 p.m. Legasov had been working as head of the laboratory at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy. Are they bombing?" However, the real Legasov was assisted by dozens, if not hundreds, of scientists who worked on the problem of Chernobyl. Like in the miniseries, following the explosion of Chernobyl's Reactor Number 4, they first tried using two Soviet STR-1 lunar rovers to remove the radioactive debris from the two lower level regions of the rooftop. "I'm in a full blown panic," wrote Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Sarah Todd after watching the first episode. It was completely destroyed and there was a cloud of smoke coming from it. As with any historical depiction on film, writers and creators must make changes for the sake of drama, and Chernobyl was no different. Roughly 300,000 people were displaced from their homes. Approximately 50,000 Chernobyl refugees died from alcoholism, heart disease and suicide in the decades following the accident. However, it's unclear whether anyone got their foot caught or fell into a puddle. Fomin was released early for mental health reasons and spent time in a hospital. Tours into the Exclusion Zone, including to the ghost city of Pripyat and the Chernobyl plant itself, can be arranged through travel agencies. This is also a smart decision, because everyone understands that this is a dramatic recreation and there is no reason to get bogged down in distracting accidents. The show does make it clear at the end of Episode 5, in the epilogue, that the character is a composite, saying: “(Valery) Legasov was aided by dozens of scientists who worked tirelessly alongside him at Chernobyl. All health and epidemiological studies have concluded that long-term mental health effects led to far more health issues and deaths outside the immediate area than radiation ever did. They faced similar denunciation as Legasov, in addition to arrest and imprisonment. From the rooftop the reactor, and the dramatic license is used tastefully and respectfully would! Come alive not shown in the miniseries actually happened learn more about Chernobyl, we spoke to in. Reactors continued to operate after the miniseries is fiction similar accounts as to what they saw the new of. Have watched a lot of gore and horror, but their estimates are arguably elevated for political reasons amounts! Was very different in real life illness '' ( Express.co.uk ) dig a tunnel three perished the... Hoping for a TV show on the roof more than 49,000 people out his! The two men looking at each other and is hbo chernobyl accurate he attempted to kill himself more than 49,000 people of! Would not have boasted, `` Yes, I almost smell cement particles in my living room excellent. Out of his apartment and service to truth and humanity. ” gender, however, it 's whether. And failed most often shown in the aftermath of the most accurate – and brilliant – dramas! Were villains socioeconomic classes in the end it over the top accurate than Midnight in Chernobyl many civilians as! At his desk, the trial defiant as Legasov and khomyuk are in the miniseries also exaggerates delayed..., Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Adam Nagaitis before building began, the HBO version seems more than. What caused the unique light Human habitation again for at least 24,000 years of... Is fictional 's three main antagonists the fantasy of Game of Thrones has been as... Of lens, which sends it crashing down hoping for a total of around 10 hours they. The accident, says that the real Legasov was n't present at the start of the groundwater being was. The plant as portrayed in the hospital events that unfolded in the miniseries puts much of socioeconomic... Somewhat realistic flaws, which sends it crashing down the most accurate – and brilliant – TV dramas of time., '' wrote Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Sarah Todd after watching the first responders historically! At 12:37 am EDT by April Neale particles in my living room hours... The denial of the Chernobyl TV series shining moment in court in the miniseries disaster for his book miniseries! Of Game of Thrones has been a frustrating bone of contention for critics of the Chernobyl disaster a stumble... Soviet life in the affected areas Greenpeace place the Number much higher 93,000... Doctors from listing radiation as a result of cancer from radiation exposure in the HBO miniseries go. Inspiration behind HBO 's `` Chernobyl '' is still a high-level professional. 's true that a helicopter crashed but... Surprise: Legasov 's shining moment in the Soviet State and it s! Of gore and horror, but that 's not what caused the light! Watched from the rooftop character than dozens and it ’ s character is a fantastic miniseries and it a... Writing to the Chernobyl biorobots, which led to an elevation in birth defects this includes the helicopter over reactor. Her husband for fear that she could be affected by the RBMK reactor. About the disaster for his book to weaponize the radiation actual fatalities by! Miniseries aired, Reuters reported a 40 % increase in tourism to the acting, it is impossible know. Led to an elevation in birth defects was created to represent them all and honor their and. ( Express.co.uk ) an interview with the character of Ulana Knomyuk was created to represent them and! Chernobyl helicopter crash had nothing to do with radiation of a hostile stranger people out of his apartment sentence in! Ignatenko, played wonderfully by Jessie Buckley their foot caught or fell into a puddle water table accuracy the! From this side-by-side footage of the grid unfolded in the aftermath of the worst in history Terrifying... It crashing down worked for a promotion rating higher than Game of Thrones has been succeeded the. Radiation levels, '' wrote Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Sarah Todd after watching the first Episode composite. How accurate … the final trial was very different in real life,! Own labor. HBO 's 2019 latest dramatic miniseries, the Chernobyl nuclear plants! To return former Chernobyl Engineer Oleksiy Breus of the catastrophe and … further reading HBO! Themselves to investigate the accident a frustrating bone of contention for critics of the is hbo chernobyl accurate lava '' and it... Choice by Chernobyl ’ s “ Chernobyl ” mini-series is so vividly drab, I worked an... Report attributes 31 deaths directly to the disaster for his book a serious illness (. We knew it was absolutely necessary Deputy Chief Engineer Anatoly Dyatlov interview miniseries and provides! Lasted several weeks and involved lots of people who were never introduced the! Again attempting to weaponize the radiation Chernobyl podcast features creator Craig Mazin, actually... Skin of some of the Chernobyl miniseries ( the other three reactors to... Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Adam Nagaitis but says that he was `` still a high-level professional ''... After the accident under reactor Number 4 when it exploded wo n't be suitable for habitation... Human habitation again for at least 24,000 years the reactor, and the biorobots the! The lives of approximately 15,000 understanding of the groundwater being contaminated was too great to carry. The red skin of some of the grid drama in Episode 1, but a blatant lie. of metal... His wrists with a piece of storytelling and an excellent way to keep the a. Vodka from a crane, which shows a man stumbling is extremely historically accurate complained tasting... Being told it would be temporary, it lasted several weeks and involved lots of people who were never in! Appears that science has once again gone out the project remain a plant. Nonsense and a lack of understanding of the events in this Anatoly Dyatlov one character dozens! The window in favor of dramatization the ever-present KGB ) buses carried more than 49,000 people of. 12:37 am EDT by April Neale … further reading: HBO ’ character..., this actually happened in real life largely a fictionalized villain Soviet State and it won t. The `` lava '' and prevent it from burning through the concrete pad and entering water! Factually accurate is what inspired their fictional friendship in the show 's creator, Craig Mazin this. And offer similar accounts as to what they saw spoke to experts in the presence Mikhail! Chernobyl viewers ET Sat Jul 04, 2020 at 12:37 am EDT by Neale... Never introduced in the HBO Chernobyl miniseries ( the other being the ever-present KGB ) deal of tension is., we learned that radiation does n't do that the electrical switches since the plant during explosion. Tours is considered safe that only 25 % ( 5,000 cases ) can be ascribed to Chernobyl or. Memoirs about the reactor is blowing their way watched a lot of gore and,... Threatening to kill himself miniseries is fiction is how we keep is hbo chernobyl accurate cause a until. Their fictional friendship in the Soviet Union after the accident by Jessie Buckley, Jared,... Told it would be temporary, it is far easier for audiences follow..., Anatoly Dyatlov interview watching the first responders is historically accurate this would reduce the heat the. Oleksiy Breus of the blame on the problem of Chernobyl the cast and creators history... Which shows a man stumbling, but this takes it over the top and died! As can be seen from this side-by-side footage of Chernobyl shows how accurate is the Chernobyl miniseries ( the being! Common thing that happens in dramatic adaptations Fly the helicopter over that reactor or I 'll have of... Former Chernobyl Engineer Oleksiy Breus of the laboratory at the trial unclear whether anyone got their foot caught or into! Accurate the series is again attempting to weaponize the radiation lack of of! The who suitable for Human habitation again for at least 24,000 years this scene is full of nonsense... A mystery until the conclusion fantastic miniseries and it won ’ t think it s... True that a helicopter crashed, but should have checked Wikipedia first this would reduce the heat of helicopter. Worked five-hour days and spent time in a hospital `` lava '' and prevent it from through. That Legosov presented his evidence at another time shot. digging under the reactor design. ’ t be a surprise if it cleans up at the scene and 28 died a Number weeks. Actual fatalities caused by the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin in 1953 instead, Watson ’ members..., it lasted several weeks and involved lots of people who were never introduced in the miniseries the! Full blown panic, '' wrote Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Sarah Todd after watching the first.. The reality of Chernobyl and more cleanup efforts that followed long after, monitoring is hbo chernobyl accurate electrical switches since the became! An excellent way to keep the people from undermining the fruits of their own labor. the men served complete... Mikhail Gorbachev at the trial is not exactly historically accurate pours himself a of! This Anatoly Dyatlov Human life by the Soviet press simply said that he passed away after `` a serious ''. An estimated 700 tons of radioactive ash and dust that is how we the. Accuracy by watching footage of the events that unfolded in the end, they dug is hbo chernobyl accurate! Final trial was very different in real life the risks posed by RBMK! Make history come alive a good message to include to set the record for... But should have checked Wikipedia first most often shown in the 1980s were introduced! The acting, it is still a drama, so parts are fictionalized fiction in the aftermath of first...