Chernobyl: the real-life horror story arrives to HBO in May

Author: Jorge Costa

On the 26th of April of 1986, a nuclear accident with catastrophic human and environmental consequences happened in Chernobyl, Ukraine – who at the time was part of the Soviet Union. Now, 33 years later, the tragedy will be the starting point into a miniseries and HBO just released a promising trailer about it and, well, no surprise, it looks terrifying.

With release date upon 6th of May, ‘Chernobyl’ will have five episodes and it has some interesting names casted already. Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard, known for Good Will Hunting, will be part of the series, acting as Soviet Deputy Prime-Minister Boris Shcherbina. David Dencik will play USSR leader Gorbachev, while beteran British actor Jared Harris, will feature as Valery Legasov, the chemist who led the commission investigating the incident, while

“Every atom of uranium is like a bullet, penetrating everything in its path…,” Kremlin scientist Valery Legasov declares in the trailer. “Chernobyl holds three trillion of these bullets. Some of them will not stop firing for 50,000 years.”

The series will focus on the last days before the nuclear disaster, showing the explosion, that devastated Chernobyl and the city Pripyat and the effects in the population in the nearby areas. The trailer already looks quite frightening, showing the agony and pain caused by the radioactivity and the chaos that followed one of the most tragic events in recent history. It also depicts one very interesting detail: the coffins being buried under cement, to decrease the risk of the radioactivity expanding.

“There was nothing sane about Chernobyl”, is how HBO resumes the trailer launched this week. In the 2 minute and 28 second clip we can already expect a production divided into mystery, horror and thriller, with many well-set scenes, portraying the nuclear site and the Pripyat city as a zombie-like territory, in the aftermath of the accident.

‘Chernobyl’ was announced last February on a press tour of the Television Critics Association. At the time, the writer and creator Craig Mazin, assured that ‘there is nothing hyped about this portrayal — it’s a realistic as can be achieved. It will shake you up’.

According to IndieWire, ‘even in carefully selected images from the series, it supports what series writer and creator Craig Mazin has said about “Chernobyl” being a real-life horror story’. Even though the series is set at Pripyat, due to the obvious danger that still grinds the now Ukrainian ghost city, which might last 900 years or more – scientists say – it was mainly filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania.

It is likely that the series will be another success by HBO, if it commits to Mazin’s words. The fans of horror and zombie-esque movies and series will be enticed, while the keen history enthusiasts with find an additional reason to see it. Will the series ignite once more the discussion about the risks of nuclear plants and nuclear energy?

Maybe, but it is even more certain that it will highlight the consequences of tragic accidents like Chernobyl or, more recently Fukushima (Japan, 2011), who not only have immediate effects, but also provoke damage on generations to come, with the impact of radiation causing cancer and mutations on humans and animals.

The five chapters of ‘Chernobyl’ will be under the guidance of Swedish director Johan Renck, who directed three episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ and also worked with ‘The Walking Dead’. His most preeminent work is ‘The Last Panthers’, a claimed SundanceTV series, about a tenacious group of Balkan jewel thieves.

With HBO betting all its chips on the last season of Game of Thrones, it is possible that ‘Chernobyl’ is another take at a possible Emmy nomination. Seeing it will premiere in beginning of May, the mini series will still arrive in time to run for the Awards, since the eligibility goes until the end of that month.