Chasing Chernobyl: How HBO's Docudrama Serves Both Story and Truth
In the interest of conveying important truths about real history via televised narratives, sometimes it is necessary to shift details. HBO leads the cinematic pack with its treatment of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
HBO's latest docudrama, Chernobyl, is setting a new bar for keeping meta discussions about real history conducted via film storylines true to their factual roots.
Any time a deadline or time-space demand is placed on a true-life story, we know that elemental details can be cut, condensed, and even altered in the interest of meeting that deadline. HBO has committed to maintaining a dedicated accuracy in its five-episode depiction of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 26, 1986.
In a side-by-side comparison of real-time Chernobyl footage set against the HBO creation, you can easily see the level of astute visual and historical detail that the televised series has made available to viewers.
Recognizing that events as monumental as a nuclear accident like Chernobyl carry long-ranging and painful connotations and realities for countless real human lives has given HBO an impetus to take its edits public by way of an accompanying podcast. The podcast showcases and explains every deviation from true timelines or events that has been made in the series and even gives a directorial explanation as to why the change was made.
The historical relevance and importance of faithfully depicting events like Chernobyl has never been more relevant in an age when most students and young learners garner their information about the past not from books, but from digital devices.
Dramatic narratives of any kind always require some modifications, simplifications, and at times even omissions, but telling old stories to a new crowd in this era presents challenges of integrity never seen in any previous generation due to the power of the internet, both as a tool of information and a weapon of falsity.
HBO's attention to providing a true-to-experience rendition of this notorious and momentous accident dutifully serves its obligation to history as well as to story.