Chernobyl is already one of the most fascinating and relevant disaster movies I can think of, and we’re only one episode into it’s five episode run. “1:23:45” does a great job of introducing us to the men and women that will be affected by the nuclear power plant’s explosion, sets up the political dysfunction that will impede the increasingly desperate and heroic attempts to contain the environmental catastrophe, and visually and audibly highlight the dangerous, hellish conditions the rescue workers and plant technicians were forced to confront. Is the Chernobyl disaster a uniquely Soviet phenomenon? Could something like this happen in the West? And what lessons about a pervasive culture of lying and misinformation can we apply to our lives today? We hash out these questions and much more.
If you’re interested in further reading, here is the pictorial essay I mention in the podcast, containing detailed background details around the plant’s construction, what went wrong the fateful day of the explosion, and the immediate aftermath and resolution of containment. Obviously, massive spoilers if you’re unfamiliar with the Chernobyl reactor explosion. Here is also an XKCD comic that effectively helps one appreciate the massive doses of radiation the people working and living near Pripyat could have faced.