touring the Chernobyl area on a motorbike

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Here's one for fans of urban-exploration and trespassing

"I travel a lot and one of my favorite destination lead through poisoned with radiation, so called Chernobyl "dead zone" It is 130kms from my home. Why favourite? because one can ride there for hours and not meet any single car and not to see any single soul. People left and nature is blooming, there are beautiful places, woods, lakes. There is no newly built roads, but those which left from 80th in fairly good condition..."

(I suggest not to leech these pictures to avoid crashing her site)

Sébastien Chikara (Sébastien Chikara), Sunday, 7 March 2004 11:09 (fifteen years ago) link

lol, dually noted. Is she that 3 eared chick? Reminds me of a short story that I read one time, they didn't quite know what the radiation area was because everyone was extinct except a few young humans. They rebuilt society and every once and awhile someone wondered off into the radiated area and died. Then one day one went through and lived, and they thought that he was magical. Maybe she is magical.

aNatheMa (aNatheMa), Sunday, 7 March 2004 11:15 (fifteen years ago) link

her site has been number 1 on blogdex for the past 24 hours or so, i'd imagine a few more hits won't crash it.

D Aziz (esquire1983), Sunday, 7 March 2004 11:38 (fifteen years ago) link

then police shot 7 or 8 of them and it helped

Helped ease the housing shortage???

Skottie, Sunday, 7 March 2004 16:36 (fifteen years ago) link

Well, for safety's sake I hope she wears her helmet.

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Sunday, 7 March 2004 16:37 (fifteen years ago) link

amazing pictures... to repeat the obvious.

donut bitch (donut), Sunday, 7 March 2004 18:37 (fifteen years ago) link

then police shot 7 or 8 of them and it helped

Helped ease the housing shortage???

For people who didn't checked, the context is even more funny:
"marauders in radiation poluted area are not just a regular marauders, they don't steal stuff for themselves. There were cases of radiactive tv sets and other stuff being sold on city second hand markets and then police shot 7 or 8 of them and it helped"
So, I guess "public safety" would be the justification for these killings.

Sébastien Chikara (Sébastien Chikara), Sunday, 7 March 2004 19:55 (fifteen years ago) link

do you mean "funny" as in "suspicious" or "funny" as in "ha-ha laugh riot," Sébastien?

this IS a rather large area of land, left uninhabited for very obvious reasons. it also does suggest some interesting things -- about conservation generally, humanity's place in nature, etc.

Eisbär (llamasfur), Sunday, 7 March 2004 22:37 (fifteen years ago) link


s1ocki (slutsky), Sunday, 7 March 2004 22:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Ýòî áûëî Ïèööà Õàò. Òåïåðü ýòî âñå çàêðûòî(îõâà÷åíî) ìàðãàðèòêàìè. Âû ïîëó÷èëè ýòî. Âû ïîëó÷èëè ýòî

(This was a Pizza Hut. Now it's all covered with daisies. You got it. You got it.)

donut bitch (donut), Sunday, 7 March 2004 22:58 (fifteen years ago) link

Eisbär : it was like "it's not because we are laughing that it's funny", was just wondering if Skottie was being facetious or had ADD or something to miss the context like that.

Sébastien Chikara (Sébastien Chikara), Monday, 8 March 2004 01:44 (fifteen years ago) link

The eeriest part is when she describes the silence, and how it freaks out tourists and they have to leave.

the music mole (colin s barrow), Monday, 8 March 2004 02:00 (fifteen years ago) link

two years pass...
'beautiful' scenes from Pripyat today

Konal Doddz (blueski), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 09:46 (thirteen years ago) link

i love the shot of the ferris wheel from a raised distance esp.

Konal Doddz (blueski), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 09:55 (thirteen years ago) link

You don't have to head East too see the effects of Chernobyl — Welsh hill farmers in Snowdonia are still suffering with radioactive sheep.

Hello Sunshine (Hello Sunshine), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 10:24 (thirteen years ago) link

haunting, but fascinating, pictures

some of them are very 'Silent Hill'

Ste (Fuzzy), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 12:07 (thirteen years ago) link

I love the ending to this article

Wildlife at Chernobyl

Ste (Fuzzy), Tuesday, 25 April 2006 09:08 (thirteen years ago) link

why not tour the zone virtually?

ambrose (ambrose), Tuesday, 25 April 2006 09:36 (thirteen years ago) link

I was not ready for the portraits at this morning, but I did need to see them.

wish I had a permanent link, but it's a javascript window.

milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 25 April 2006 18:15 (thirteen years ago) link

I love the idea of wild horses living in old stalinist flats. However those pictures at Slate are just horrendous and heartbreaking.

andy --, Tuesday, 25 April 2006 21:11 (thirteen years ago) link

the slate thing:

RJG (RJG), Tuesday, 25 April 2006 21:15 (thirteen years ago) link

My god. That Slate essay is incredible, and deeply deeply sad.

Trayce (trayce), Tuesday, 25 April 2006 22:02 (thirteen years ago) link

five years pass...

Has anyone visited Pripyat recently? I'm thinking of going next month if i can arrange a tour.

A little bit like Peter Crouch but with more mobility (ShariVari), Monday, 19 September 2011 08:06 (seven years ago) link

three years pass...

Has anyone visited Pripyat recently? I'm thinking of going next month if i can arrange a tour.

I keep meaning to do this but never get around to it. Has anyone been?

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 2 October 2014 07:22 (four years ago) link

I can't believe I've never seen this thread. I was obsessed with that woman's site when I first found it. I've not been but I would love to go. You really should and then come back and post pics and tell us all about it so we can live vicariously through you please.

Benson and the Jets (ENBB), Thursday, 2 October 2014 10:31 (four years ago) link

I'll see what i can do!

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 2 October 2014 10:47 (four years ago) link

two weeks pass...

I visited on Saturday. There seems to be some question about how long tours to the exclusion zone are going to be run for due to safety concerns (the rather prosaic threat posed by crumbling buildings rather than radiation) and I felt that, Ukraine being a country I have a great love for and Chernobyl being such a huge part of its history, it’s somewhere I should get to while I still had the chance.

The tour operators showed the excellent documentary The Battle Of Chernobyl ( on the two hour drive from Kyiv, helping to set an appropriate tone. Pripyat isn’t just a spooky ghost town, it’s somewhere tens of thousands of people were fatally poisoned and half a million more pitched in, at great cost to their own health, to prevent a horrific disaster becoming an unimaginable one.

28 firemen were first on the scene - all were dead within weeks. 600 airmen were used to drop bags of sand and boric acid on the reactor – all died of radiation poisoning not long afterwards. From the 10,000 Tula miners who tunnelled into the cooling tanks to prevent another explosion to the ‘bio-robots’ – reservist soldiers who were drafted in to clean uranium rods from the roof of the reactor when the actual robots found the radiation levels impossible - the heroism and sacrifice was absolutely extraordinary. That sacrifice probably prevented a second catastrophe that would have vapourised everything as far as Minsk and rendered Europe uninhabitable in perpetuity. The gravity of the historical and human context means visiting should be undertaken with some respect afforded to other sites of great modern tragedy in Europe. Quite how anyone could be crass enough to greenlight the Chernobyl Diaries is literally beyond me.

There are about 3000 people working in the town of Chernobyl, roughly 18km from the reactor, at any one time. Some, like our official guide, live there in two week shifts but most commute in from Slavutich, a town outside the zone. Most of the work is either focused on scientific monitoring or the construction of a new €1bn sarcophagus for Reactor no.4. The old one is cracking and still contains enough nuclear waste to poison 100m adults. The funding is coming from the EU, as a trade-off for Ukraine closing the other reactors which, remarkably, were still active until the 2000s. Around 150 people live in the zone permanently – illegal but tolerated by the authorities. All are elderly and either couldn’t hack city life or wanted to see out the rest of their life in their old family homes. The number was as high as 800 a few years ago.

On the way through town, we’re given a primer on the region’s history and told that Chernobyl was a majority Jewish town until WW2 and is still one of the most important sites for pilgrimage in Eastern Europe. We’re also told, in uncompromising terms, about the mutual distrust between zone workers and the Orthodox American and Israeli pilgrims who visit ever year – each accusing the other of disrespecting their respective suffering.

The first of the abandoned villages we visit, Kopachi, was considered too dangerous to leave standing due to its wooden architecture so it was knocked down and buried. The only surviving building is the brick nursery. After days of prevarication, during which many of the 130,000 people living in the Chernobyl region received fatal or life-threatening doses of radiation, the entire population was moved out with two hours’ notice, leaving anything they couldn’t physically carry behind them on the understanding that they would be gone for a week or two at most." class="noborder">

It’ll be about a thousand years until it’s safe for anyone under the age of 18 to be allowed back.

And here’s the guilty party in the makeshift concrete straightjacket it took 90,000 people six months to create:

The new sarcophagus will look like this:

It’s still too dangerous to work directly on the reactor so it’s being built on rails and will be slid into place when finished. Should be ok for about 250 years.

The heart of Chernobyl, its company town Pripyat (pop: 43,000), was just three km away from the reactor. When it exploded local people reported seeing a column of multi-coloured fire stretching a kilometre into the sky and that it was one of the most beautiful things they’d ever seen.

Pripyat is huge and entirely deserted. This was the supermarket, with signs for canned vegetables and fruit still in place.

The fairground was a fortnight away from opening when the reactor went up." class="noborder">

The most famous building in the city is the school, though, its floor littered with thousands of tiny, child-sized gas masks.

Despite the disrepair, it still feels like a school – signs telling students to be ‘bold and agile’ and a woodworking classroom that still, remarkably, smelled like every woodworking classroom in the history of the world 28 years after it was last used.

The music room has seen better days, however.

On the way out of the school, we were met by this beautiful creature, a glossy-coated fox with no fear of humans. You got the sense it would have eaten out of our hands, had we had anything worth offering. Rather unromantically, the guide mentioned that you can often pet foxes when they’re in the first stage of rabies as they’re as friendly and docile as domestic dogs, but I’d prefer to believe that they’ve just adapted to an environment where people pose no threat.

Although they were too far away to photograph well, we also saw a team of glorious Mongolian horses dashing through the fields of long grass. A couple of dozen were introduced as an experiment, essentially to see whether or not they’d die or have colts with deformities, but there are hundreds now and they’re going strong. The whole of the Belarussian section of the exclusion zone, as far as I can tell, is kept as a nature reserve and, given that the land will never be lived in again by people, it’s likely the Ukrainian side will follow it back to the wild over time.

The last stop on the trip was a visit to an apartment block, reemphasising that Pripyat was a thriving home to tens of thousands, not just a place for work and study. Each little flat had pretty wallpaper and furniture still standing.

A copy of Kotsiubysnky’s Fata Morgana that will never be finished:

What happened at Chernobyl was terrifying but what could have happened was so many times worse, it did make me question whether nuclear fuel can ever be considered a viable option in the long term. Yes there were design flaws and yes there was human error but the consequences of anything similar happening again, however improbable that may be, are difficult to conceive. There are probably a dozen things that could kill us first but, either way, walking around Pripyat, with its mixture of buildings declining to rubble and relics of everyday domestic life, I couldn’t shake the feeling that, one way or another, this is a glimpse of what the whole world will look like one day. As a memento mori / reminder of the transience of human existence, it’s a humbling experience.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 20:15 (four years ago) link

Some of the pictures didn't link correctly so:

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 20:18 (four years ago) link

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 20:18 (four years ago) link" class="noborder">

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 20:20 (four years ago) link

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 20:20 (four years ago) link

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 20:21 (four years ago) link


the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 21:18 (four years ago) link

currently on a wikipedia trawl through chernobyl related stuff

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 21:19 (four years ago) link

When it exploded local people reported seeing a column of multi-coloured fire stretching a kilometre into the sky and that it was one of the most beautiful things they’d ever seen.

No pictures survived? I imagine the radiation probably fogged all the film within a pretty big radius

, Tuesday, 21 October 2014 22:08 (four years ago) link

these are taken on top of the reactor and survived, although you can see the ionizing artifacts

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 22:22 (four years ago) link

As far as i know, there are no surviving pictures from the first few hours of the fire. If the radiation didn't get to the film, the KGB probably did.There was a huge effort on the part of the reactor controllers to hide as much evidence as they could from the authorities and, in turn, for the authorities to hide the evidence from the world. If you believe Gorbachev, the news that the reactor had exploded didn't reach him until after Sweden reported the fallout hitting Stockholm two days later. He knew that there had been an accident but claims that the extent was, somehow, hushed up locally.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 23:09 (four years ago) link

I recommend the documentaries on YouTube, there are some images of the plant from a few days after, but the documentaries have detailed re-enactments. Sad, but this was how I learned about how a nuclear power plant works.

Threat Assessment Division (I M Losted), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 12:37 (four years ago) link

amazing story and photos, sv

NYC if you didn't know was taken over by skeleton hipsters in the past (stevie), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:02 (four years ago) link

yeah, thank you for sharing sv!

sweet lids of the stars (seandalai), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 23:38 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

Brilliant reportage and pictures SV.

I am right in thinking that if this disaster had occurred in a nuclear reactor in say England or France rather than the Soviet Union it would have been more catastrophic because the firemen and soldiers would be more likely to down tools rather than embark on a suicide mission? I recall reading that they plied the first responders with vodka and told them it would protect them from the radiation. I need to read a good Chernobyl book because I never realised how potentially even more catastrophic it could have been.

xelab, Thursday, 27 November 2014 23:01 (four years ago) link

that's an interesting thought

although a disaster of that severity like that is hypothethically much less likely in a western country, there would be severe difficulties in getting enough people to take those risks, by comparison in fukushima there were only fifty people who willingly exposed themselves to high levels of radiation, to get many thousands of people to do that is something else altogether

and if they needed specific skills like the miners to dig underneath the reactor....even if there are enough miners left in this country one doubts how many of them would be prepared to do that

apart from soldiers nobody else could be compelled to work in those conditions and more people were involved in the chernobyl cleanup than are currently in the uk military

so either paying huge amounts of money to people with the right skills or emergency legislation mandating people to work are the only options

نكبة (nakhchivan), Thursday, 27 November 2014 23:13 (four years ago) link

I meant to say Am I right? obv

have you read any good chernobyl books nakch?

xelab, Thursday, 27 November 2014 23:21 (four years ago) link

no i have only read internet stuff about it but the wikipedia page is good and links to other pages where necessary

the most horrifying part is the possibility (as i understand it) that the 'corium' mixture of superheated radioactive isotopes, molten concrete, ash etc would have hit the coolant water in a confined space and created a boiling liquid explosion of such power that it could have acted like the charge in a primitive nuclear weapon and created a fission explosion with the material in the other three reactors

نكبة (nakhchivan), Thursday, 27 November 2014 23:46 (four years ago) link

Alexander Akimov, the unit shift chief, and Leonid Toptunov, a technician, falsely believed the water flow to the reactor was blocked by a closed valve, and so they fought their way to where they believed they could pump water back into the reactor and spent hours, submerged to the waist in radioactive water. Both would die a torturous death from radiation poisoning.Later, in hospital, Akimov tried to stand and the skin fell off his leg like a sock.

نكبة (nakhchivan), Thursday, 27 November 2014 23:47 (four years ago) link

That is so horrific, fucking hell.

xelab, Thursday, 27 November 2014 23:52 (four years ago) link

some other stuff on the internet disputes the claim of the soviet physicist that it could have created a nuclear explosion and it would just have been a large conventional explosion that would have spread over a wider area than the first one, although that still would have been fairly catastrophic

نكبة (nakhchivan), Friday, 28 November 2014 00:02 (four years ago) link

Great pictures SV.

I went myself, not long after this thread was initially started. Very interesting to see how it looks lately.

Drop soap, not bombs (Ste), Friday, 28 November 2014 16:42 (four years ago) link

a bit like you lot with aloo-minum

calzino, Friday, 31 May 2019 21:42 (one month ago) link

fraid so, and we do it with chlorine, bromine, fluorine too

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Friday, 31 May 2019 21:43 (one month ago) link

I thought young ugly-mug actor whose name I can't recall was very good as sensitive ingenue called up into pet liquidation squad in last ep.

calzino, Friday, 31 May 2019 21:50 (one month ago) link

Just started this. We've seen two episodes so far, this series is incredible. It's like an updated "Day After." Truly scary and unsettling. The score, by Hildur Guðnadóttir, is excellent. She's a cellist, but it sounds like scraping metal.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 03:54 (one month ago) link

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 04:25 (one month ago) link

we just watched ep 1 last night

no matter how prepared you are from reading about it, it’s still a lot to take in when you watch it unfold even as a dramatization

the locals hanging around on the bridge taking in the view of the fire as the ash starts falling, or the firefighters inncuously rolling up with hoses, it’s all just continuous & varying degrees of D:

hooked, obv

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 5 June 2019 05:04 (one month ago) link

I’m glad people who lived in the Soviet Union at the time are as impressed with this show as I am

...with at least one notable exception.

Resignation was the defining condition of Soviet life. But resignation is a depressing and untelegenic spectacle. So the creators of “Chernobyl” imagine confrontation where confrontation was unthinkable—and, in doing so, they cross the line from conjuring a fiction to creating a lie. The Belarusian scientist Ulyana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) is even more confrontational than Legasov. “I am a nuclear physicist,” she tells an apparatchik, in Episode 2. “Before you were Deputy Secretary, you worked in a shoe factory.” First, she’d never say this. Second, the apparatchik might have worked at a shoe factory, but, if he was an apparatchik, he was no cobbler; he has come up the Party ladder, which might indeed have begun at the factory—but in an office, not on the factory floor. The apparatchik—or, more accurately, the caricature of the apparatchik—pours himself a glass of vodka from a carafe that sits on his desk and responds, “Yes, I worked in a shoe factory. And now I’m in charge.” He toasts, in what appears to be the middle of the day: “To the workers of the world.” No. No carafe, no vodka in the workplace in front of a hostile stranger, and no boasting “I’m in charge.”

The biggest fiction in this scene, though, is Khomyuk herself. Unlike other characters, she is made up—according to the closing titles, she represents dozens of scientists who helped Legasov investigate the cause of the disaster. Khomyuk appears to embody every possible Hollywood fantasy. She is a truth-knower: the first time we see her, she is already figuring out that something has gone terribly wrong, and she is grasping it terribly fast, unlike the dense men at the actual scene of the disaster, who seem to need hours to take it in. She is also a truth-seeker: she interviews dozens of people (some of them as they are dying of radiation exposure), digs up a scientific paper that has been censored, and figures out exactly what happened, minute by minute. She also gets herself arrested and then immediately seated at a meeting on the disaster, led by Gorbachev. None of this is possible, and all of it is hackneyed. The problem is not just that Khomyuk is a fiction; it’s that the kind of expert knowledge she represents is a fiction. The Soviet system of propaganda and censorship existed not so much for the purpose of spreading a particular message as for the purpose of making learning impossible, replacing facts with mush, and handing the faceless state a monopoly on defining an ever-shifting reality.

In the absence of a Chernobyl narrative, the makers of the series have used the outlines of a disaster movie. There are a few terrible men who bring the disaster about, and a few brave and all-knowing ones, who ultimately save Europe from becoming uninhabitable and who tell the world the truth. It is true that Europe survived; it is not true that anyone got to the truth, or told it.

Simon H., Wednesday, 5 June 2019 17:02 (one month ago) link

*funny* how life works out sometimes: just about everyone stood on that bridge perished soon afterwards... two of the suicide mission divers are still alive apparently.

calzino, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 18:11 (one month ago) link

it might have been better to include bigger groups of scientists and portray the group-think that really went on and the trouble some of them got into for being outspoken. And lots of other niggles. But I'm just glad to see some decent drama for once!

calzino, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 18:19 (one month ago) link

I knew that was Masha Gessen before I clicked the link.

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 19:01 (one month ago) link

I mean, same.

Simon H., Wednesday, 5 June 2019 19:24 (one month ago) link

especially since she consulted on and handled the Russian dialogue in The Americans

Simon H., Wednesday, 5 June 2019 19:24 (one month ago) link

I'm usually a little cranky about the addition of dramatic elements or taking poetic license when it comes to the actions of characters based on real life or composite figures so I understand the impulse to complain, but some of those gripes are in the realm of not understanding how creative nonfiction works versus documentaries

Now, the real complaint would be how the characters act as if they're in an American/British drama as opposed to a Russian one, right

mh, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 20:31 (one month ago) link

If only Jared had employed that fucked up accent he used in the expanse, I might have believed that scene where he said: Just hoy a bit o' fucking sand an' barium on it lad :p

calzino, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 20:39 (one month ago) link

boron even.

calzino, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 20:43 (one month ago) link

Now, the real complaint would be how the characters act as if they're in an American/British drama as opposed to a Russian one, right

Yeah, it's minor and I get it, but it does irk me a little (esp. when one actor used "bloody" as a profanity). I joked with my wife that when Jared reads the report in Russian in the second episode he should have looked up and said in English "I don't understand a word of this!"

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 20:57 (one month ago) link

I don't think it would have been improved by actors employing uniform daft commie accents throughout, although some tried to at times. It might have been improved if everyone spoke in Russian/Ukrainian, but I thought some of the strongest performances where from actors speaking in their normal accents.

calzino, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 21:43 (one month ago) link

I'm on my phone excuse spelling

calzino, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 21:43 (one month ago) link

there was a moment in the trial when skarsgard kinda grunts "let him finish" and it feels a lot like bootstrap bill is saying it. it took me out of it for awhile.

Cecil replies to your e-mails (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 5 June 2019 22:04 (one month ago) link

i guess bootstrap bill had a five pointed red star attached to his face so

Cecil replies to your e-mails (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 5 June 2019 22:06 (one month ago) link

The firefighter character is played by the actor who attempts to take over leadership of the crew in The Terror.

Cal, The lead Scottish miner was called Trevor in Eastenders (never a name I've known any Scotsman to have, tbh)

Shite New Answers (jed_), Wednesday, 5 June 2019 23:05 (one month ago) link

I'm usually a little cranky about the addition of dramatic elements or taking poetic license when it comes to the actions of characters based on real life or composite figures so I understand the impulse to complain, but some of those gripes are in the realm of not understanding how creative nonfiction works versus documentaries

OTM. This is one of those rare things that employed obviously cleaned up dramatic (or “Hollywood”) elements without being particularly irksome. I think the craft and spirit of the thing far outweigh whatever license was taken to make this, you know, a dramatic television show.

circa1916, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 23:11 (one month ago) link

tbh I think she did a good job of underlining that there's a difference between streamlining events/life for art, and mischaracterizing them, and that for her it mostly fell on the wrong side. (also it's not like she's unfamiliar with the medium!)

Simon H., Wednesday, 5 June 2019 23:15 (one month ago) link

This also makes me wonder how far I could make any room in conversation with my staunchly Republican father who loves this show about the very obvious parallels to global warming and how his guys are treating it.

circa1916, Wednesday, 5 June 2019 23:17 (one month ago) link

For that level of hairsplitting it's odd to criticise the scene where Shcherbina threatens to have Legasov shot if he doesn’t tell him how a nuclear reactor works and go on a riff about a supposed fear of shooting in other uncited characters when in fact Scherbina doesn't threaten to have him shot. He actually threatens to have him thrown out of the helicopter — which seems much more obviously hyperbolic and less "this scene is to show it was a society ruled by fear of the gun".

I also wonder if she missed some of the class implied by the British accents — I definitely got where class distinctions were supposed to lie in a way she says is wholly missed.

The bit where it does ring right is that ultimately it was the system itself to blame and that only partially comes across on screen at the expense of pointing at Dyatlov and co. I think that's fundamentally groping towards the same point as the "Game of Thrones was sociological storytelling until it wasn't" article that did the rounds a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, any careless and arrogant arsehole could have filled Dyatlov's slot and the system was churning out Dyatlovs by the score. But at the same time, it was actually Dyatlov and had he not acted the way he did in the chain of events, the explosion really might not have happened. Getting across both aspects is a tricky balance to strike, especially in a drama.

stet, Thursday, 6 June 2019 00:56 (one month ago) link

*reportedly acted, I guess

stet, Thursday, 6 June 2019 00:57 (one month ago) link

Mazin here v. much on the "it was fundamentally the society not Dyatlov The Villain" side of the fence, so he at least tried to get it over

stet, Thursday, 6 June 2019 01:02 (one month ago) link

Just an aside, I think this was a really great use of ~television entertainment~ and it’s been a while since I’ve been this engrossed, moved, and thoughtful about wtf we’re doing here. Hope this wins a ton of awards and we can get more things of this caliber.

circa1916, Thursday, 6 June 2019 01:20 (one month ago) link

Was there any hype or anticipation for this? Seems to have come out of nowhere.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 6 June 2019 02:08 (one month ago) link

it does seem like that

Dan S, Thursday, 6 June 2019 02:15 (one month ago) link

finished ep 2
this show is emotionally destroying me by degrees
it is so good

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 6 June 2019 04:50 (one month ago) link

Best TV thing I've seen for ages.

Listening to the soundtrack in isolation today, that lifted my mood.

Was there any hype or anticipation for this? Seems to have come out of nowhere.

My feeling is that this was a deliberate move on HBO and Sky's part. From an entertainment point of view, it does a fantastic job of making everyone forget about Game of Thrones and stop speculating about what HBO will do now its huge cash cow is gone. "We'll do this," say HBO and Sky, quietly, pushing Chernobyl at you and blindsiding you completely. But if they'd said beforehand that they were going to do that, people would have started watching Chernobyl with that in mind.

Although I could be giving them too much credit.

trishyb, Thursday, 6 June 2019 06:54 (one month ago) link

It's not worth much but it's worth noting that the show apparently is already the the highest rated (per imdb) TV show of all time, above the two Planet Earth docs, Breaking Bad, etc.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 6 June 2019 12:01 (one month ago) link

Yes, I feel like Sky in particular has always had something to hammock Game of Thrones to try and prevent churn on their pretty poor Now Entertainment package.

Most years has been quite forgettable; I wonder if even they knew what they had on their hands

stet, Thursday, 6 June 2019 13:11 (one month ago) link

bit insensitive to pull the cement mixer right up to the graves with the grieving widows right there! can you wait like 20 minutes, guy?

i'm sympathetic to the gessen article. there is quite a bit of heroic cornballism going on, and it would have been interesting to see more of the hierarchical deference that surely existed particularly among the apparatchiks, but it feels uncharitable. the very first scene of ep 1 explicitly dismisses the idea of dyatlov as the only, or even most responsible person. it's announcing it right up front: this is a TV drama, about particular characters, but they were not the only ones.

also her point about the shoemaker-turned-functionary feels a little undermined by slava malamud's unearthing of the photo of the actual coal minister who was... a former coal miner? NOT an office dude?

Lil' Brexit (Tracer Hand), Sunday, 9 June 2019 00:15 (one month ago) link

if you think this was a case of dramatic license gone mad you should see the liberties taken by that drama series gessen was a consultant on!

calzino, Sunday, 9 June 2019 06:07 (one month ago) link

I really like Gessen as a writer and even though I largely disagree with that article I think the whole "this one person represents all the scientists" is a bit of a leap, plus it's a bit of a hero narrative, with a sprinkling of "if only they'd listened to the one woman" which obviously has noble roots but I'm not sure bureaucracy and idiocy on the scale of this event is more specific than the human condition.

FernandoHierro, Sunday, 9 June 2019 07:00 (one month ago) link

Even before I knew the facts of that character the writing there felt a bit pushed and modish. A tiny bit. Fuck it tho, it is an amazing show.

FernandoHierro, Sunday, 9 June 2019 07:02 (one month ago) link

I haven't enjoyed a HBO mini-series as much as this since the John Adams one and am quite happy to accept it's flaws and divergences from actual events.

calzino, Sunday, 9 June 2019 07:05 (one month ago) link

But in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia's most widely-read tabloid, Mr Muradov said his version of the show "proposes an alternative view on the tragedy in Pripyat".

I can't wait for this version where capitalist mind control undermines the integrity of reactor core..

calzino, Sunday, 9 June 2019 07:17 (one month ago) link

One columnist declared the show a plot to undermine Russia's current atomic agency.

louise menschokov?

calzino, Sunday, 9 June 2019 07:27 (one month ago) link

with a sprinkling of "if only they'd listened to the one woman"

I definitely saw it as a chance for them to cast a woman in a major speaking role. Which I think is something Mazin suggests in the podcast.

trishyb, Sunday, 9 June 2019 09:46 (one month ago) link

for sure. i can see that. i guess it might be more interesting or bold to have given her some flaws tho, imo.

FernandoHierro, Sunday, 9 June 2019 10:05 (one month ago) link

i present the apex of chernobylposting - "Steamed Core"

— Comrade Valentina ☭ (@leftistthot420) June 8, 2019

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Sunday, 9 June 2019 10:16 (one month ago) link

for sure. i can see that. i guess it might be more interesting or bold to have given her some flaws tho, imo.

Agreed. She's not really a character at all.

trishyb, Sunday, 9 June 2019 11:02 (one month ago) link

Watson didn't have too much to work with but I thought the feigned accent was a bit incongruous and unnecessary, especially with mostly the rest of the cast speaking in their normal accents.

calzino, Sunday, 9 June 2019 11:47 (one month ago) link

Fuck it tho, it is an amazing show.

The review that got it right was iirc the NYTimes, which basically said here's what it gets right, here's what it gets wrong, but none of that really matters because it's so good and the broader beats are pretty accurate.

Anyone listen to the companion podcast with the creator and Peter Sagal from NPR? I assume it's serious, but his voice unfortunately is pretty inextricably linked to comedy.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 9 June 2019 12:35 (one month ago) link

That's the podcast I was talking about. I agree that it's a bit weird to hear them talk so chirpily about it.

trishyb, Sunday, 9 June 2019 13:53 (one month ago) link

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