Chernobyl was the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. One of the reactors exploded, catching fire and spreading tons of nuclear material in the surrounding area. The Chernobyl dome, a masterpiece of engineering, has sealed off the reactor, but the site remains uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. Miraculously, however, plant and animal life thrives in the exclusion zone.
Interest in Chernobyl has sparked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Reports claim that Russian forces have claimed the exclusion zone following a battle with Ukrainian forces.
Chernobyl was the site of a disaster but also featured incredible tales of heroism. Despite happening decades ago, some still feel the effects of the catastrophic explosion. These stories feature in the following Chernobyl documentaries.
Chernobyl 1986 tells the stories of the unsung heroes of that tragic night. The historical drama focuses on the ‘liquidators’, a group of firefighters that stopped the fire from spreading to other reactors, preventing a greater disaster.
Filmmaker Alexander Rodnyansky filmed the devastation of Chernobyl first—hand. His experience in the disaster zone from day one stuck to his mind, as he witnessed a group of brave men fight to contain the explosion to one nuclear reactor.
Perhaps the most famous of Chernobyl documentaries, Chernobyl on HBO tells the story of the Soviet Union’s missteps before and after the fatal explosion. It presents Chernobyl as a disaster that could have been avoided if people in power had followed procedure.
Chernobyl blames the systemic failures of the former Soviet Union for the calamity. A star-studded cast plays the roles of key figures present at the time.
The former Soviet Union’s role in the disaster facilitated calls for Ukrainian independence. More than three decades later, Russia wants to reclaim land it almost destroyed thirty years ago.
The Real Chernobyl
Sky released The Real Chernobyl shortly after HBO released its famous miniseries. Unlike HBO’s Chernobyl, The Real Chernobyl uses the real faces of people involved in the disaster. For instance, Sergei Parashin, the former deputy director of the plant, offers his thoughts on the event.
The Real Chernobyl uses footage from the HBO documentary and commentary from real-life people. Oleg Bryukhanov, the son of the plant’s director and a participant in the documentary, was nine when authorities called his father to inform him of the accident.
It’s the best follow-up to the HBO series as it adds a layer of reality to the fictionalized HBO series. The series is available on YouTube.
The Babushkas of Chernobyl
It’s not easy to relocate from the land you’ve called home for decades. The Babushkas of Chernobyl are women who refused to leave the Chernobyl area even after the explosion. Inhabitants of the area were forcibly relocated, but the octogenarian women of the territory opted to stay.
The radiation present around Chernobyl can affect the human body. However, The Babushkas of Chernobyl shows a group of women that has no time to deal with the radiation. All that matters to them is the land and how to draw sustenance from it.
The Russian Woodpecker
The Russian Woodpecker explores a conspiracy theory claiming that the Chernobyl incident wasn’t an accident. Its basis is a strange radio signal heard between the late seventies to the 80s referred to as the Russian Woodpecker.
Chad Gracia wrote the film based on an investigation into the cause of the disaster by Fedor Alexandrovich. We know that the Soviet Union’s mistakes caused the disaster, but The Russian Woodpecker casts doubt on whether they were mistakes or political calculations.
The award-winning film is available on Fubo TV.
This Oscar-winning documentary is a tear-jerker: it explores the effects of radiation on the bodies of children present in the exclusion zone. Many children exposed to the radiation suffered from cardiac degradation condition, referred to locally as Chernobyl Heart.
Chernobyl Heart also revealed that young people suffered a myriad of conditions, including cancer and mental health issues. The 40-minute short documentary informs on the need to treat nuclear energy with care as a disaster like Chernobyl may affect people’s health for generations to come.