In May 2019, we published a story on a harrowing topic for the entire Ukrainian society and the world at large, Chernobyl. The place where one of the most terrible human-made disasters in history took place. My story on the Chernobyl Zone tells not only the tale of the disaster but also where to find the locations that today have become the usual exclusion zone. At that moment, I did not even know about the "Chernobyl" TV show, which caused a huge world rush and reminded humanity of the time of the "peaceful disaster". The Chernobyl series does not have many detailed shots of Pripyat or the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, but the directors of this phenomenal show still used several Ukrainian locations during filming. In this article, I want to show you Ukrainian locations in the top-rated TV series of the American HBO production and the British company Sky - Chernobyl.
The creators of the series were tasked to recreate the lives of people in the Soviet Union as accurately as possible. To do this, the authors chose locations that used to convey the atmosphere of the time. I was not yet born in 1986, but in the days when the catastrophe happened, my mother studied in Kyiv. She remembers the atmosphere among people who did not know that a great disaster occurred only 130 km away. Television was silent, radio was silent, city and state leaders were silent. Moreover, people and children were brought to the May Day festivities. Within a few days, rumours began to spread about an invisible enemy - radiation. Close windows. Do wet cleaning. Don't walk outside. Don't buy groceries outdoors. If you have relatives far from Kyiv - go there. Unfortunately, these warnings were not heard from TV or radio. No one warned ordinary people. After all, it was the USSR - an idyllic paradise on earth, as it appeared.
Only the party leadership exported families from Kyiv and the surrounding territories to other cities of the great Soviet Union. Now, compare what I described to what was shown in the series. Feelings were the same. My opinion is 99.9% similarity. The series "Chernobyl" received many positive comments for the detailed reproduction of pictures of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Cars, clothes, hairstyles and interiors were not just mildly resembling the USSR. They were reproduced exactly as in the USSR in 1986. Even the wallpaper in the Pripyat hostel shown in the series was the same as in my mom's apartment.
To find authentic locations, the show's creators travelled to countries with Soviet history. Even though some of the locations and actors were Ukrainian, most of the scenes were shot in Lithuania. In Ukraine, the "Chernobyl" series was filmed for several weeks. Filming was conducted with the assistance of a Ukrainian company - Radioactive. I am not sure if the company name is related to Chernobyl, but the fact it is appropriate. The main сast of the show came to Kyiv - Stellan Skarsgard, Jared Harris, Emily Watson and Jesse Buckley. In Ukraine, the shooting took place on Khreshatyk Street, on the territory of two metropolitan universities, a Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine and on the coast of the Kyiv Reservoir (locally known as the Kyiv Sea). In the first series of "Chernobyl" from the Kyiv sites, you can see the Institute of Hydrobiology on Heroes of Stalingrad Avenue. The facade of this building is similar to that of the Pripyat city hospital MSCH-126, where the first victims were brought after the accident.
Another Ukrainian сompany, Postmodern Digital, worked on the digital model of the Chernobyl NPP for the series. The scenes of a burning reactor and the area around the station is a digital 3D model that was created back in 2013 for another TV series about Chernobyl. HBO used Ukrainian computer graphics to refine it. There are not many Ukrainian locations in this top-rated HBO series. But, the main location of the greatest human-made disaster shown in the show is in Ukraine. If you have the will and the courage, you should definitely come to Ukraine and go on a trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. There, you will be able to see up close what is left after the horrific mistakes and great lies that served as a screen for the idealized system of society.
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