Chernobyl 1986 Parent Guide
This clumsy bit of Russian propaganda isn't worth watching.
Parent Movie Review
After years of service with the Pripyat fire department, firefighter Alexey Karpushin (Danila Kozlovsky) is ready for bigger and better things: namely, a transfer to a bigger station and a nicer apartment in Kiev. But he runs into his ex, Olga (Oksana Akinshina), and discovers that he has a child, Alex (Pyotr Tereshchenko) he has never known. While he’s still coming to terms with that bombshell, a catastrophic failure at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant triggers a massive explosion, widespread fire, and dangerous radiation leaks. Alexey soon finds himself in the middle of the disaster, working furiously with his fellow firefighters to try and prevent worse disasters. But worse disasters are coming unless people can find the courage to volunteer to do work which will almost certainly kill them.
I was expecting this movie to be state-sponsored propaganda designed to deflect blame from Russian authorities and reactor officials, which it is, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so unbelievably lazy. One line that really stands out comes near the end of the film as our plot-armored hero asks who was responsible for the disaster. The reply to this critical question is simply, “Does it really matter?” Now, I found that incredibly infuriating and transparently dishonest. Of course it matters – the film’s backers, which includes the Russian state atomic agency Rosatom, would just prefer that you didn’t think about it. What this most reminds me of is Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, another piece of decades-late propaganda, designed to avoid difficult conversations about responsibility and causality, opting instead to spoon feed viewers a bizarre romance subplot.
Not surprisingly, this piece of clumsy propaganda goes out of its way to try and downplay and ignore the severity of what actually happened on April 26, 1986, instead focusing on small and frequently fictionalized details. Wouldn’t you like to know how or why the reactor failed so spectacularly? Well, instead of even mentioning the criminal incompetence during testing which led to an open-air reactor meltdown which threatened to irradiate most of Europe, let’s focus on the bizarre dynamics between one firefighter and his ex. Brilliant choice.
This film’s primary content concerns are result the extreme radiation exposure and environmental hazards which cause some gruesome injuries. The most disturbing of these are very nasty radiation burns, but individuals are also scalded by high-pressure steam and injured by pieces of the collapsing structure. There’s hardly any profanity and no real sexual content to speak of, which surprised me until I remembered that the point of propaganda is to be easily accessible by a broad audience.
Frankly, I wouldn’t watch Chernobyl 1986 under any circumstances. It’s a cheap piece of Russian government spin, built on the backs of hardworking and self-sacrificing volunteers who went above and beyond to save others. If you want to gain appreciation for those who actually made those decisions and those sacrifices, watch HBO’s superb miniseries Chernobyl. This film is just a tawdry monument built on the lead-lined graves of actual heroes.Directed by Danila Kozlovskiy. Starring Danila Kozlovskiy, Oksana Akinshina. Running time: 136 minutes. Theatrical release September 25, 2021. Updated September 25, 2021
Watch the trailer for Chernobyl 1986
Rating & Content Info
Why is Chernobyl 1986 rated Not Rated? Chernobyl 1986 is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: People are burned, scalded, and injured by the unstable environment around the reactor. A man is shown getting a tracheotomy in the back of an ambulance. Numerous individuals are seen with severe radiation burns and fatal levels of radiation exposure. Dead and dying animals are seen, one of which is crushed by a car.
Sexual Content: There is brief male posterior nudity in a medical context.
Profanity: There is one extreme profanity and infrequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially and imbibing to excess. Adults smoke tobacco.
Page last updated September 25, 2021
Chernobyl 1986 Parents' Guide
What actually happened during the Chernobyl disaster? What caused the reactor to fail so catastrophically? What was the response of the Soviet government? What kind of hazards did the responders face? How were they treated by their government? What happened to their families? What is the situation like currently around Chernobyl? What are the ongoing hazards of so much radiation? How does Chernobyl compare to other nuclear disasters, like those at Three Mile Island or Fukushima? How has government response differed?
Wikipedia: Chernobyl disaster
World Nuclear Organization: Chernobyl Accident 1986
The Chernobyl Gallery: Cause
National Review: What Separates Chernobyl from Three Mile Island and Fukushima
News About "Chernobyl 1986"
For more information about this film, check out this video clip from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Related home video titles:
The HBO miniseries Chernobyl is a much better researched and better written examination of both the personal sacrifices made by volunteers and catastrophic mis-management at both the local and national level. If you like disaster films that are more romance than disaster, you can always go watch Titanic. Other disaster films based on real events include Deepwater Horizon, Apollo 13, 127 Hours, Sully, United 93, World Trade Center, and Everest. If you like stories about courageous Russian characters facing down terrifying levels of nuclear radiation, you might enjoy K-19: The Widowmaker.