Foto af Yves Alarie hos Unsplash

Chernobyl 1986, a Russian movie on Netflix about the Chernobyl disaster, is straying away from actual history in historical movie.

Right now, subscribers on Netflix can watch the Russian movie Chernobyl 1986. This is not a review as much as it is a viewing guide for those who wants to watch the movie but are not updated on the history.

First of all, Chernobyl was perhaps one of the most dramatic events in the world history. Thousands of lives were hanging in the balance, solely dependent on what the Soviet Union leadership decided to do about the situation.

Still, the director and writers of the movie added some extra drama. This next section is going to contain spoilers from the movie. For instance, the fire is put out by fireman like in real life, but for some reason everything around seems to explode. One of the things is debris, exploding as it falls from the roof to the ground.

Also, just like in history, a group of divers were sent to open the valves letting out the water under the reactor before the nuclear fuel would melt down, hit the water and create a steam explosion that could contaminate the entire European continent.

No help from the West

Historically, the people sent to let waded through water, opened the valves and then went back. In the movie, they swim through the already extremely hot water with valves exploding left and right.

The four people who went down – in real life only three people went down – suffer many problems on the way. One is hit in the head by an exploding valve, before he disappears. Another is struck by an anxiety attack, which the protagonist cures quickly with a motivational speech.

When they come back, they are sent to Switzerland for medical treatment, because Switzerland apparently have very good doctors for radiation sickness. This part is relatively benign.

In real life, the people who went to open the valves, were sent for treatment in the Soviet Union. It was not until much later that the Soviet Union asked the West for help, when they got robots in attempt to clear the roof of graphite.

Soviet competence

The movie also shows a Soviet state operating with almost surgical precision. The evacuations of people starts promptly, treatment in the hospitals is done in a very organized way.

Clothes are removed from the firefighters, before they – the firefighters – are thoroughly washed. This is also an inaccuracy, as most people treating the people struck by radiation sickness did not have intimate knowledge of handling that kind of sickness.

Speaking of radiation sickness, a lot of the firefighters in the show are seen bleeding profusely from their faces as a symptom of radiation sickness. In real life they did not start bleeding right away. It is still a horrible condition with violent throwing up, sunburn symptoms and organ failure.

HBO got it (more) right

The Netflix movie, Chernobyl 1986, is not necessarily a waste of time to watch because of the historical inaccuracy. Actually it makes it a little more interesting, because it is supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture and might give an insight into the way they want to portray the Chernobyl accident.

However as a measure of education or learning about the historical event, watching the HBO show will be a better choice. It is widely acclaimed for it’s accuracy, and many of the major inaccuracies are labelled and addressed in the last episode.

Still, some of it is of course dramatized, but how the Soviet union responded to the crisis; what caused the explosion and in what order the events transpired is well represented in the show.

The writers of the show even put out a podcast, where they discussed many of the historical inaccuracies connected to the separate episodes for people who wants to go into more depth with the show. The podcast is on Youtube and most podcast providers.

For those who want to get even further into the story, Nobel prize laureate, Svetlana Alexevich, wrote the book “Chernobyl Prayer,” that is a gathering of personal tales from people who experienced the accident.