In only five episodes, the short series Chernobyl He left an indelible mark on the conscience of the spectators, and the series of unbearable scenes to carefully rebuild. Besides his character as a disastrous movie, Chernobyl It is also an important political series of the last years of the USSR.
from the Italian League ChernobylProduced by Craig Mazin and broadcast by HBO, we prioritize the great scenes mixed with nuclear danger. We see the first firefighters arriving near the factory without the slightest protection, no idea what’s going on. We see the same people again, a few hours later, exposed to deep radiation and cared for by doctors who are completely overwhelmed by events. We see once again these “biobots” responsible for removing highly radioactive material from the surface of the factory, in one of the most exciting scenes in the history of the series, punctuated by the agonizing noise of Geiger counters.
Of course the great strength of the series Chernobyl There is, first and foremost, in this ability to make the invisible danger of nuclear energy tangible. This gives awesome and unforgettable scenes.
But Chernobyl It is not limited to that. Very cleverly, the Craig Mazin series also managed to describe the special political situation of the Soviet Union in the mid-80s.
As a reminder, the disaster occurred in April 1986. Mikhail Gorbachev at the head of the Soviet Union for a year with a desire for reform began to assert itself. But The country is still governed by the old Soviet ways, and that’s what the series portrays.
First, thereideological blindness. Ideology in the Soviet Union is more important than reality, and if the truth contradicts the ideology, then the truth is false. This is what happens since the first episode about the accident itself: for the director of the power plant or the chief engineer responsible for carrying out the experiment, there was no nuclear accident in the reactor, since the authorities claimed that this type of reactor is the safest. The dominant ideology in this field is that Soviet nuclear energy is infallible. So the reactor core cannot explode. And if the engineer claims that he saw the opposite with his own eyes, then the engineer is at fault, and no doubt he had bad intentions towards the Soviet regime.
Another typical side of the Soviet Union is the famous side secret cult. In fact, we learned that a report outlining reactor malfunctions has been buried. Here again, it is better to trust ideology than reality.
But this cult of secrecy is also found to be slow to announce the disaster publicly. It took Scandinavian scientists recording abnormally high levels of radiation for the embattled Soviet leaders, to acknowledge the incident. The series even shows that Gorbachev himself did not have all the items at his disposal: the information is locked so that commanders can confirm without lying that they do not know, as well as to protect local officials.
The series shows how this cult of secrecy will delay the arrival of help and the decision-making that can secure places and residents. This will speed up the creation of Glasnost, a policy of transparency and freedom of expression in both art and media. This desire for transparency culminates in the trial, which is recast in the series’ final episode, a trial whose progress would have been unimaginable at any other time in Soviet (and even Russian) history.
Finally, what the Chernobyl disaster and its management by local or federal authorities in the Soviet Union reveal is an intolerable order. For many observers, the April 86 incident is one of the events that precipitated the fall of the Soviet Union (With the failed conflict in Afghanistan and the madness of the arms race). The series clearly shows how the daily administrative performance of the Soviet Union contributed to the amplification of the outbreak and the assessment of the disaster. In this we can say that Chernobyl It is also a political series: the catastrophe here exposes the flaws of an ideological and bureaucratic system isolated from reality on the ground.