Side-By-Side Footage Shows How Accurate HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ Really Was

Alfie PowellAlfie Powell in Entertainment, TV
Published 14.06.19
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A side-by-side comparison of the real and dramatised events of the Chernobyl disaster show just how accurate the series was.

HBO’s Chernobyl, though harrowing, was pretty impeccable. It perfectly conveyed the all too real horror of the events that unfolded when Reactor 4’s core exploded in the Chernobyl power plant, and provided an insight into its management.

While some believe the show to be a smear campaign on Russian authorities – such as the Russians who are making their own version that blames the CIA – the general acceptance is that Chernobyl pays the utmost respect to those affected in the incident.

But just how accurate is it? If you were to play side-by-side footage of real documentation and the HBO/Sky show, how different would everything look?

Well, someone’s done that and as it turns out, Craig Mazin did a wonderful job of retelling the story as well as possible…

There are a few changes, obviously, but most of them seem to be a director taking creative liberties for cinematic effect.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s really no difference between normal-dressed men hosing down roads and men dressed in hazmat suits, the latter just looks better.

Similarly, the truck spraying water on the road; while the real one just sprayed ahead, the HBO one sprayed everywhere and in general, makes for a much better shot without actually changing the story.

chernobyl side by side accurate

I’ve not a clue though why they made that buggy have two extra wheels in the show, though.

Speaking on the accompanying Chernobyl Podcast, director Craig Mazin spoke about the research conducted in order to make as reliable a representation as possible. He said:

If I have a choice between going for something that sounds dramatic or something that sounds less dramatic, I actually try to opt for less because I think what is dramatic about Chernobyl doesn’t need extra.

Believe it or not, this is the restrained version of what actually happened because believe it or not, there are some accounts where it gets even worse.”

chernobyl jared harris accurate

Meanwhile, Emily Watson’s Ulana Khomyuk – the nuclear physicist – wasn’t actually a real person, and more of an amalgamation of all of the people who worked to find out what went wrong at Chernobyl and how to fix it as best they could.

Chernobyl is rated the best TV series ever on IMDb, so obviously something Mazin did worked.

So long, short, how accurate was Chernobyl on HBO? Pretty damn accurate. Are the characters in Chernobyl real? Almost all of them are…

Images via HBO, Thomas Flight

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