Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

‘A horrible way to die’: how Chernobyl recreated a nuclear meltdown

Guardian,  Julie McDowall, 5 June 19,    From ‘painting on’ radiation sickness to making the explosion less ‘Die Hard’, the acclaimed drama has gone to great lengths to evoke the chaos and terror of the Soviet-era disaster.

We were lucky to have survived the Cold War without a nuclear attack. The pop culture of that chilly era warned what the bomb would do: the crisping of the skin; the slow agony of radiation sickness; the pollution of the land; and the death of cities.

The bomb didn’t explode, but some people experienced a fragment of this horror. The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 brought explosions, radiation sickness, evacuations, contaminated earth and, finally, medals awarded and memorials erected. It was war after all – but not against the west; this was another type of nuclear enemy.

Sky Atlantic/HBO’s drama Chernobyl unfolds over five distressing episodes that show the 1986 explosion was more than just another disaster in a decade horribly cluttered with them: it was a ghastly taste of nuclear war, a monstrous cover-up and, finally, an event that helped bring down the Soviet Union.

So it is fitting that the series begins with the explosion, as if to get it out of the way so that we might focus on what happens afterwards………..

Surprisingly, Parker didn’t look to photos of Hiroshima or Nagasaki victims for examples of radiation damage, as he suspects these were tempered by wartime propaganda. He went instead to medical textbooks, and this allowed him to pioneer a technique for Chernobyl where he “layered” the skin: painting the actors’ bodies with wounds, then putting a semi-translucent layer on top, giving the impression that sores are forcing themselves to the surface as the body degrades from within. The effect is dreadful to see. Yet, Parker was strict in saying these men must not be relegated to Hollywood “zombies”, and he explains that the director made sure sympathy stayed with these characters: even as they lie rigid on the bed, gurgling and fading, they still speak, and a wife may still hold her husband’s rotting fingers.

“It’s the worst way to die,” says Parker. “Beyond anything you can imagine. The most horrible way to die. I think it’s the worst, in line with medieval torture.” What makes it particularly atrocious is that the victims were denied pain relief. In the latter stages of radiation sickness you cannot inject morphine, he explains. “The walls of the veins are breaking down.”

So the Chernobyl disaster produced agonising deaths without pain-relieving drugs, which brings us back to the horror of nuclear war. Plans for the NHS after a nuclear attack show drug stockpiles would quickly be exhausted, and those who were hopelessly injured would be allowed to die without the tiny mercy of a supermarket paracetamol.

Chernobyl is a compelling and brilliantly realised drama, but it’s also a warning – of the dangers of lies, arrogance and complacency, and of nuclear war itself.

The final episode of Chernobyl airs Tuesday, 9pm on Sky Atlantic. The whole series is available to view on Sky Go and NowTV

{also in Australia – on Foxtel Showcasw –  first episode 12 June]

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jun/04/one-day-your-skin-just-slips-off-how-chernobyl-restaged-nuclear-disaster

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June 8, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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