Author Topic: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?  (Read 522 times)

RPatton

Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« on: June 05, 2019, 02:13:42 AM »
Having lived through the soviet era and Chernobyl, this miniseries was amazing. I knew Chernobyl's history from the Western perspective, but to see it playing out from the POV of those inside the USSR at the time... ooof. It's simultaneously horror and tragedy. Definitely worth watching. (And there's a companion podcast that is worth listening to as well.)
 

Dennis Chekalov

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2019, 03:32:09 AM »
I didn't watch the series; but people say it's extremely inaccurate. I read historians' reaction. Most characters of the series are real historical personalities; many of them are shown as evil or incompetent, although in the real life they weren't.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 03:36:49 AM by Dennis Chekalov »
 

Atunah

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2019, 03:47:14 AM »
I would like to watch it, but I don't have HBO and its too expensive to subscribe just for that. Maybe eventually it will be on some other service I do have.

I was a teenager in Germany when it happened. It was a confusing and scary time. I remember one of the things they told us not to sit on the grass. Among other advice.
 

RPatton

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2019, 10:03:40 AM »
I didn't watch the series; but people say it's extremely inaccurate. I read historians' reaction. Most characters of the series are real historical personalities; many of them are shown as evil or incompetent, although in the real life they weren't.

I don't think that at all. A majority of the people portrayed were shown in an incredibly heroic light. From coal miners, to young soldiers, to the ideal personification of a soviet. Even the people who aren't shown as heroic are shown more as tragic. I didn't see anyone as evil. No one had malicious intentions.

But most of all, it's not a documentary and doesn't pretend to be. Everyone involved admits, without being asked, that they took liberties to make for a better story. If you watch it expecting a documentary, you'll be disappointed. If you watch it as a composite of all the different lives brought together that day and for months afterward, then it can be an amazing bit of story-telling.

I also read Voices from Chernobyl, and while I recognized some of the liberties taken for the sake of time constraints and a telling a story, I recognized a lot of the people from the books on the screen.

Where accuracy mattered, I think Mazin did his best to ensure it was accurate. Where the story needed to take preference, he wove in some fiction based on a real story.

I would like to watch it, but I don't have HBO and its too expensive to subscribe just for that. Maybe eventually it will be on some other service I do have.

I was a teenager in Germany when it happened. It was a confusing and scary time. I remember one of the things they told us not to sit on the grass. Among other advice.

It was a remarkably scary time. The Challenger had just exploded, tension between the US and USSR could be cut with a knife, and Gorbachev and Reagan hadn't yet established that odd relationship that shouldn't have worked on the surface. If I'm remembering the stories right, didn't Germany learn about it because of ground contamination from shoes?

As I watched it, I commented that it wasn't a tragedy, it was a horror story. Living through it, I never realized just how many times it could have gone even more pear-shaped.During the Vienna meeting downplayed just how bad it could have been. And the West portrayed it as caused by employees/staff who didn't have the education or training combined with inferior structures and regulations. When, in fact, it was a chain reaction of bad decisions that could have bee prevented if the USSR made it public that an RMYK reactor could explode under the right circumstances.

I'm sure it will hit one of the services sooner rather than later. However, you can get HBO Go for 30 days free, I say sign up, binge watch it, then cancel :)
 

Atunah

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2019, 12:00:47 PM »
I don't remember all the details on how Germany was informed or what we were told. I'd have to dig in my brain deeper.  :icon_mrgreen:. Some stuff is coming back bit by bit. Course we didn't have twitter or facebook so some things kind of trickled in. We just didn't know then what the fallout would be. Nobody knew and we were close enough in Europe to be concerned about it. It was scary.

I do remember though all the stuff after and before and just the whole tone that was around then. Just 3 months later I went to a huge concert against nuclear waste in the german state I was living in. Bavaria. It was a big deal. There were a lot of things happening those years.

I think amazon prime channels only has 7 day trials for HBO. Guess that would be enough to watch that. Don't really see anything else on HBO I need to see. Maybe finish Westworld. Trying not to pay so much on streaming and keeping it to few at a time.
 

RPatton

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2019, 12:43:17 AM »
I don't remember all the details on how Germany was informed or what we were told. I'd have to dig in my brain deeper.  :icon_mrgreen:. Some stuff is coming back bit by bit. Course we didn't have twitter or facebook so some things kind of trickled in. We just didn't know then what the fallout would be. Nobody knew and we were close enough in Europe to be concerned about it. It was scary.

There's a great book. Voices From Chernobyl. It's an oral history and the narrators may not be completely reliable, but there are enough shared elements to figure out what should be taken with a grain of salt. It's definitely worth reading.

https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Chernobyl-Selection-Svetlana-Alexievich-ebook/dp/B016QMCBKM

 

German Translator

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2019, 12:53:04 AM »
Quote
I don't remember all the details on how Germany was informed or what we were told. I'd have to dig in my brain deeper

Somebody put German news programs from that time on YouTube:

 



I remember the farmers in a village nearby had to plow under all their lettuce and vegetable fields. People wouldn't buy those anymore - only vegetables grown in greenhouses (as if those were airtight!)

I also remember traveling to Normandy a few days after Chernobyl happened, and as soon as we crossed into France, the news coverage seemed to be much more subdued... perhaps due to the fact that France has a lot of nuclear power stations.


Just a few of the books I have translated (English <-> German)
 

Atunah

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2019, 03:03:33 AM »
Thanks for the links. Its all coming back now. Funny how we store things somewhere in the brain and it activates when prompted by some visual, or voice, etc. I grew up in the boonies, super small village in Bavaria and yes, farmers were hit. We didn't eat certain things. Tried to only buy and cook stuff we thought should be save. As if. Anything on the ground was considered tainted. We had a small garden and stuff was just coming into season and we didn't eat it either. We kept talking about the nuclear "cloud" that was over us.

We felt very isolated being so far from a bigger city and all we had was rumors, newspapers and well Tagesschau.  grint

Damn I feel old when I watch that footage now. And the hair and the clothes. I still watch Tagesschau today via the app each day and also the one from each day, just 20 years in the past. Kind of sad how some news kind of stay the same even 20 years later.

I started a trial to HBO as we want to watch the Deadwood movie anyway. Watched the first Chernobyl episode and boy was it suspenseful. I could take my eyes off the TV.
 

RPatton

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2019, 05:27:49 AM »
I started a trial to HBO as we want to watch the Deadwood movie anyway. Watched the first Chernobyl episode and boy was it suspenseful. I could take my eyes off the TV.

I know, right!

There's a podcast with Ira Glass Peter Sagal and Mazzin that discusses narrative choices and where/why he decided to tell the story as told by others and where/why he deviates because he still has to deliver a story that people will watch. It's available on YouTube and other platforms as well.
.

And if I can ask a favor... let me know how the Deadwood movie is? I loved the series and fear being disappointed by it.

Edited because I had a brain fart and wrote Ira Glass instead of Peter Sagal.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 05:40:25 AM by RPatton »
 

Dennis Chekalov

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2019, 02:16:31 AM »
I don't think that at all. A majority of the people portrayed were shown in an incredibly heroic light. From coal miners, to young soldiers, to the ideal personification of a soviet. Even the people who aren't shown as heroic are shown more as tragic. I didn't see anyone as evil. No one had malicious intentions.

Glad to hear (well, actually, read) it. Honestly speaking, all this anti-Russian propaganda makes me kinda sad. Do you know how often I see passages about «evil Russians» (including this forum)? And people really believe in this propaganda. Good if this series is different.
 

notthatamanda

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2019, 04:58:10 AM »
Glad to hear (well, actually, read) it. Honestly speaking, all this anti-Russian propaganda makes me kinda sad. Do you know how often I see passages about «evil Russians» (including this forum)? And people really believe in this propaganda. Good if this series is different.

For what it's worth Dennis, I'm American, 50, and I didn't grow up thinking the Russian people were evil.  What I remember from the cold war era is a lot of fear on adults' parts.  My mom grew up in Miami, all her family was there, she had just moved North when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened, it was scary.  Also a lot of fear in my grandparent's generation and even my dad, who was six when WW2 ended.  Everyone wanted to avoid another world war.  But I remember conversations at school and at the dinner table, where we speculated that the average Russian family didn't want another war any more than we did.  One person's experience, not worth much, but there it is.
 

Dennis Chekalov

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2019, 05:48:51 AM »
Thank you, it's very nice to hear it.
 

Atunah

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2019, 11:58:00 AM »
There was a Sting song in 1985 I have always loved called "Russians". Because russians love their children the same than anyone else, then and now. But in the grandstanding of the politicians a lot of that got lost. There are no winners in war.

I consider those workers that went in trying to do what needed to be done after the Chernobyl accident heroes. They knew what could and would happen to them. Its just not a story that has been told I don't think. Or at least not for the masses to know.

We all share the same planet. If one country f*cks stuff up, we are all screwed. I think deep inside we all know that, no matter the rhetoric.

Watched the 2nd episode now. Might need a couple of days to watch the next. This is heavy stuff, but its just so well done that you feel like you are there.
 

RPatton

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2019, 11:48:55 PM »
Watched the 2nd episode now. Might need a couple of days to watch the next. This is heavy stuff, but its just so well done that you feel like you are there.

Oh yeah! I had a week between episodes to fully digest everything, it's very deep. I also think for those who lived through it (and I was across an ocean and far away from any real danger) there is this overwhelming feeling of abject horror that it has taken this many years to know that without the sacrifice of thousands (and I do mean thousands) of individuals, Chernobyl would have been so much worse.

I'm not giving spoilers away because we all know what happened, and this was part of the trailer, but at the end of episode 1, three plant employees go down to check the reactor. The scene as shot follows their oral history as close as possible. It's a that moment, at least for me, when I realized everything I thought I knew (and admittedly it's a 30+ year old memory) was so very wrong.

As a head's up, episode 4 is probably the most emotionally gut-wrenching episode.

From a story-telling perspective, I think the entire series takes an extraordinary event and focuses on the ordinary moments, which draws the viewer in. If this was a novel, I would be hard-pressed to not turn the page. Chernobyl, the miniseries, isn't a docudrama, it's a memorial.

(I loved Russians too! Was my favorite song on The Dream of the Blue Turtles)


 
 

notthatamanda

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2019, 12:47:08 AM »
There was a Sting song in 1985 I have always loved called "Russians". Because russians love their children the same than anyone else, then and now. But in the grandstanding of the politicians a lot of that got lost. There are no winners in war.
I think the overwhelming majority of people love their children, but then you get the fanatics, who love their cause above all else. They keep mucking it up for the rest of us.  My latest book is set in WW2 and I learned so much from my research, including that everyone was desperate to avoid another world war.  It seemed like that was the reasoning behind concessions made to Hitler prior to the invasion of Poland.  I know that is a vague, broad proclamation, so I apologize for that, but it is hard to sum it all up in a couple of sentences.

If anything was learned from WW2 (and I hope we learned a lot) one thing is that no concessions will ever be enough for a fanatic, whether they have children or not.  I think the overwhelming majority of people want to just live in peace with their families.  I know I do. 
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 12:56:37 AM by notthatamanda »
 

Atunah

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2019, 05:02:52 AM »

And if I can ask a favor... let me know how the Deadwood movie is? I loved the series and fear being disappointed by it.

So I watched Deadwood and overall it was nice checking in with everyone again after all this time. It was a bit thin on stuff happening, but it was just too short to do a whole lot with. I'd say its for the hard core fans only really. That is probably why they did it anyway. Some closures, some same old same old and some of the life goes on. And of course some baddy stuff.

Finished Chernobyl also so I can cancel HBO again. Don't watch anything else on there. We had to spread the episodes out as it was just so heavy. Not something I would ever wanna binge watch. And I did, I'd have to have a barrel full of kittens to hug afterwards. And puppies, and baby otters.
 

RPatton

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2019, 09:34:00 AM »
So I watched Deadwood and overall it was nice checking in with everyone again after all this time. It was a bit thin on stuff happening, but it was just too short to do a whole lot with. I'd say its for the hard core fans only really. That is probably why they did it anyway. Some closures, some same old same old and some of the life goes on. And of course some baddy stuff.

Finished Chernobyl also so I can cancel HBO again. Don't watch anything else on there. We had to spread the episodes out as it was just so heavy. Not something I would ever wanna binge watch. And I did, I'd have to have a barrel full of kittens to hug afterwards. And puppies, and baby otters.

HBO turns off at the end of the month for me, so maybe I'll watch Deadwood when I have some downtime or right before bed. As long as I know to keep my expectations on the lower side. I feel like I had to grin a bear it through the scenes without Crowly and Aziraphale during Good Omens and worried that I would have to do the same with Deadwood.

It's been weeks since I watched the final episode of Chernobyl and the series is still with me. It's super heavy part of that might be because they did it in 5 episodes instead of drawing it out over more episodes. There wasn't a single episode that didn't ratchet up the emotions from the episode before it. From a story telling perspective it would worth it to break down the scenes and how they build, but quite frankly, I'd need a lot of alcohol to get through it again. I feel like I need at least a year of sunshine and lollipops to fully recover.
 

Tom Wood

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Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2019, 10:23:29 AM »
... I feel like I had to grin a bear it through the scenes without Crowly and Aziraphale during Good Omens and worried that I would have to do the same with Deadwood. ...

It did drag a bit in those scenes when the guys weren't there.

At the very first of episode 2, when Gabriel and Sandalphon show up at Aziraphale's bookstore, Sandalphon says, "Something smells evil."

Aziraphale says, "Oh, that will be the Jeffrey Archer books I'm afraid."

I'd forgotten who Jeffrey Archer was, so I had to look him up. There are quite a few Easter eggs like that sprinkled throughout.
 

dgcasey

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Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2019, 11:01:25 AM »
Having lived through the soviet era and Chernobyl, this miniseries was amazing. I knew Chernobyl's history from the Western perspective, but to see it playing out from the POV of those inside the USSR at the time... ooof. It's simultaneously horror and tragedy. Definitely worth watching. (And there's a companion podcast that is worth listening to as well.)

Nope. Don't watch any TV I have to pay for.
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Dennis Chekalov

Re: Did anyone else watch the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO?
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2019, 01:26:58 AM »
A Chernobyl liquidator about the series.