Small Screen Quarantine -Azure Dust: Inside Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone (2016 – re-released 2020)

I thought perhaps some background into the disaster at Chernobyl might be helpful. There was actually a mini-series released in the last couple years but starting with a documentary highlighting survivors could be more impactful. It was for me. It’s been years since I’ve given it any real attention but it’s haunted me for decades now, to the point where I avoided the mini-series drama and stuck to science fiction. This one though, AZURE DUST: INSIDE CHERNOBYL’S EXCLUSION ZONE, landed right.

The man in the photo above is a Stalker, which is the semi-official title given to tour guides in the Zone. It’s from Tarkovsky’s film of the same name, and fitting. He was a child when he was evacuated from Pripyat and his lived his entire life under the weight of the incident, watching fellow survivors including his mother become ill and die. He talks of weekly funerals for years; he tells a story of a boy only a few years older than himself suffering a heart attack and dying. HIs saga, and that of the other survivor featured in the film, are what we should be hearing when we talk about the existential threat of nuclear power. It’s easy enough to focus on the tyrannical bureaucrats of the Soviet Union, and the lies and deception but that’s just propaganda in the end. It’s used to empower the argument that we are better than that so of course nuclear power is safe under our administration… etc. Blah blah blah. There is ample evidence though that where it exists in the world, nuclear power is bigger than the best of us and our ability to harness it safely, even with the best of intentions. There is more evidence that those in power here rarely act with the best of intentions. It’s frightening.

I think I’m ready now to move on to the mini-series about Chernobyl. It’s not that I haven’t read over the details over the last 3 1/2 decades, but it could help to further humanize it for me. I think that’s important with any disaster story. It reminds us what’s at stake no matter where something happens anywhere in the world. We’re all sharing the same very small (and increasingly small) satellite spinning around the sun. Pripyat is practically next door. These people were our neighbors.

Recommended though. Definitely recommended.

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