Top 10 Chernobyl Moments

RELATED VIDEOS

Share

Top 10 Chernobyl Moments

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
All aboard the Chernobyl train! Game of Thrones who? As the final episode of HBO's Chernobyl has finally aired, we are counting down the best, craziest and most disturbing moments from this popular mini-series. What was you favorite moment from Chernobyl? Let us know in the comments!
Transcript
Top 10 Chernobyl Moments

Much like the Chernobyl disaster itself, this television event will forever stick with us. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Moments from HBO’s “Chernobyl.”

For this list, we’re taking a look at the defining moments from this HBO miniseries. If you haven’t seen “Chernobyl” yet, go watch it now before we spoil everything!

#10: “Are You Stupid?”
“1:23:45”

Even if you went into this miniseries with little knowledge of the Chernobyl disaster, chances are you at least knew the results were devastating. This makes it all the more frustrating as we watch the higher-ups continually dismiss the notion that a catastrophe has occurred. Physicist Anatoly Sitnikov acts as a voice of reason throughout the first episode, asserting that the unthinkable has somehow happened. When he tries to tell Bryukhanov, Fomin, and Dyatlov that the core has exploded, however, he’s dismissed as a fool. Even after Dyatlov vomits and collapses, Bryukhanov and Fomin remain blind to what’s right in front of them. Most tragically of all, Sitnikov is sent to check on the roof and he complies, knowing full well it’s a death sentence.


#9: The Propaganda Number
“The Happiness of All Mankind”

Although the Chernobyl disaster had officially been made public, the Soviet Union continued to downplay how grave the circumstances were. This is made painstakingly clear during the cleanup efforts as a robot from Germany is sent into Chernobyl and quickly breaks down due to radiation exposure. An infuriated Boris Shcherbina subsequently makes a heated phone, learning that the Soviet Union gave inaccurate information to the Germans about the radiation levels. A powerhouse moment for actor StellanSkarsgård, Shcherbina’s intense breakdown demonstrates how far he’s come since his introduction. Starting out as just another politician following orders, Shcherbina begins to see the side effect of falling in line and spreading false propaganda.

#8: The Puppies
“The Happiness of All Mankind”

While citizens were eventually evacuated from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, pets were left behind. In one of the show’s most harrowing subplots, three soldiers are sent into town to kill any animals that might’ve been exposed to radiation. It’s a brutal mission that none of them wants to execute, especially young draftee Pavel, who freezes up after seriously wounding a dog. His superior Bacho is forced to finish the job, ordering Pavel not to let the animals suffer. As traumatizing as that is, our hearts sink when Pavel stumbles across a litter of puppies and presumably their mother. Bacho sees that Pavel can’t handle such an unspeakable task, carrying it out for him off-screen, although that doesn’t make this moment any less painful to watch.

#7: The Cow
“The Happiness of All Mankind”

Even if you cut out the rest of the miniseries, this brilliantly-written scene alone would still make for an incredible short film. As people are evacuated from the danger zone, a babushka milking a cow refuses to leave her home. Although a soldier insists that it’s for her own good, the old woman won’t part ways with her house, which has evidently been through a great deal over the years. From the Russian Revolution to the Berlin Wall, the babushka persevered along with her dilapidated house. Chernobyl is the disaster that finally breaks the camel’s back, however. The solider disposes of the milk and shoots the poor cow, forcing the babushka to accept the fact that one way or another, it’s all over.

#6: The Hospital
“Open Wide, O Earth”

At a Moscow hospital, we’re given just a small taste of the atrocities that came out of Chernobyl. Deteriorating on their death beds, senior engineer Leonid Toptunov and night shift supervisor Aleksandr Akimov summon the strength to tell UlanaKhomyuk what happened after pressing the shutdown button. WhileKhomyuk doesn’t see how the reactor could’ve exploded, she ultimately believes the men wasting away before her eyes. This revelation proves earth-shattering for Khomyuk, who’s just as distraught to find a pregnant LyudmillaIgnatenko touching her dying husband with no protection. Khomyuk is resolute on exposing the truth, but a couple of KGB spies arrest her. If this alarming scene demonstrates anything, it’s that even when you do everything right, your efforts aren’t always rewarded.

#5: “You’re Going to Chernobyl”
“Open Wide, O Earth”

When it appears the reactor fuel might reach the groundwater, Mikhail Shchadov enlists a group of coal miners to dig a tunnel for a heat exchanger. Unlike some other characters seen throughout the miniseries, the miners won’t simply follow orders without asking questions. Reluctantly, Shchadov tells them they need to go to Chernobyl, a name that’s already become laced in infamy. Although it’s not what they signed up for, the miners feel a sense of duty and willingly set out, but not before giving Shchadova messy pat goodbye.At the digging site, the miners strip down due to the heat and lack of fans. The lead miner knows that this likely won’t end well for him nor his men, but nobly presses on anyway.

#4: The Helicopters
“Please Remain Calm”

In a miniseries full of phenomenal set pieces, this sequence contains what might be the most complex shot, as well as one of the most unsettling. In order to contain the fire at Chernobyl, Valery Legasov proposes dropping sand and boron from helicopters. This proves easier said than done, as the helicopters can’t fly over the towering cloud of smoke without instantly clashing, something that becomes apparent once it’s too late. Watching from afar, Legasov and Shcherbina are left feeling completely powerless. In real life, this crash actually happened six months later than depicted in the series. That being said, this scene does faithfully recreate this horrific accident as it happened.

#3: Drain the Water
“Please Remain Calm”

In addition to being a historical drama, “Chernobyl” weaves together a variety of different genres. The final sequence of episode two is eerier than what we see in most horror movies. To prevent a steam explosion, Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov, and Boris Baranov volunteer to drain the water at Chernobyl’s basement, well-aware that it might cut their lives short. The exquisitely shot sequence that follows is executed with virtually no dialogue, letting the disturbing atmosphere, dank setting, and chilling sounds do all the talking. The direction captures all of the claustrophobia, paranoia, and sheer dread that any person would feel under such conditions. As the three men are draped in darkness and the episode closes out, the audience struggles to keep themselves together.

#2: The Explosion
“Vichnaya Pamyat”

“Chernobyl” opens with a bang, but it ends with the explosion that set everything in motion. The final episode is a captivating courtroom drama that flashes back to when the reactor blew up. On trial with Bryukhanov and Fomin, Dyatlov persists that he wasn’t even in the room when all hell broke loose. Of course, at this point, everyone can see that he’s lying through his teeth. Cutting back between the past and the present, Legasov explains how Dyatlov ordered Akimov to initiate the fatal emergency shutdown. Since we already know that the reactor exploded, you’d think that this scene would be lacking in suspense. As a true testament to how ingeniously paced this miniseries is, though, we’re left at the edge of our seats.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

The Cleanup
“The Happiness of All Mankind”

Concrete Graves
“Open Wide, O Earth”

The Bridge of Death
“1:23:45”

“I Need Her”
“Open Wide, O Earth”

“You Were the One who Mattered Most”
“Vichnaya Pamyat”

#1: 90 Seconds on the Roof
“The Happiness of All Mankind”

If we had to single out one moment that best encompassed just how lethal and horrifying the Chernobyl disaster was, it would have to be this sequence in which almost 4,000 liquidators are called upon to clear graphite off the roofs after the German robot was unable to handle the job. Groups are given only 90 seconds each, amounting to an exceptional tracking shot that plays out in real-time. The young man we focus on grows visibly weaker with each piece of graphite he disposes of and stumbles on his way back in. Just when it looks like he’s in the clear, the soldier notices a tear in his boot. It may be a small rip, it may have been a short amount of time, but at Chernobyl, even the tiniest mistake and spell out doom.
Comments