The British director, James Jones, is fluent in Russian, which was certainly useful in the thorough documentation of the government’s response to the 1986 nuclear accident at the then-Soviet-controlled Ukraine.
“The connection with the truth was complicated,” recalls one of the survivors, while the other – a poetic observer – observes radiation and its destructive effects, “the enemy was everywhere and all the time, but he was invisible.”
“Chernobyl” presents a range of voices, which at the time were school children, Soviet officials and plant workers. That content is shaped into a systematic tic-tac-toe of initial response, depicting how important information gradually reached the local population, Migration of residents
And reluctance to tell Moscow the bad news.
In addition to testifying, Jones has access to some notable footage, such as the sand being dropped from a helicopter into the reactor, the “liquidators” smiling to clear the site before risking their health, and the news. Accounts insist that the risk is being exaggerated by the Western media, which seeks to embarrass the Soviet state.
For that last concern, as the film seriously notes, the full details of the lost lives have never been given: the official death toll in Chernobyl remains at 31, compared to the estimated 200,000 people killed in the tragedy. Despite real fears in the government that the accident would result in massive loss of life and massive contamination.
“Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes” is not as readily available as the screenplay, and relying on granular footage creates some obvious limitations. Yet there is an approximate aspect, especially in cases diagnosed with cancer and in graphic images of malformations born in the wake of a disaster.
Has helped bring back the era of Ukraine and Soviet domination Headlines
, But “Chernobyl” feels timely on various fronts. At its core, the documentary reveals a toxic combination of the great tragedy and the highly secretive regime, producing a tragedy that lingers in the public consciousness in multiple ways.
“Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes” premieres on June 22 at 9pm ET on HBO, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery, similar to CNN.