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Heavy Water: A Film for Chernobyl (2007)

On April 26th, 1986, reactor four at Chernobyl nuclear power station explodes, sending an enormous radioactive cloud over Northern Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus. The danger is kept a ... See full summary »

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On April 26th, 1986, reactor four at Chernobyl nuclear power station explodes, sending an enormous radioactive cloud over Northern Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus. The danger is kept a secret from the rest of the world and the nearby population who go about their business as usual. May Day celebrations begin, children play and the residents of Pripyat marvel at the spectacular fire raging at the reactor. After three days, an area the size of England becomes contaminated with radioactive dust, creating a 'zone' of poisoned land. Based on Mario Petrucci's award-winning book-length poem (split over two books), 'Heavy Water: a film for Chernobyl', and the shorter version 'Half Life: a Journey to Chernobyl", tells the story of the people who dealt with the disaster at ground-level: the fire-fighters, soldiers, 'liquidators', and their families. Written by AtomicTv

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7 January 2007 (UK)  »

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Heavy going
22 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

The melt down of a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Power Plant in 1986 was the worst man made disaster in the history of this planet. Even now, the scale of the damage to human life and a vast area of the Ukraine has not been fully understood. Heavy Water calls itself a film FOR Chernobyl. Not about Chernobyl. That is to say a film that explains what happened, why, who was involved, etc. No. What we get is a chunk of the worst poetry ever written, declaimed by morbid voice overs and and at time - by contrast to the awfulness elsewhere - some truly breathtaking camera work. But that's it. At one point we get told 600,000 children are still infected. We are shown a dozen head shots of them. Then a poem about cows. I guess a proper documentary, one which did some some digging and research wasn't what the director and his outfit had in mind. This is an art tribute. Not a documentary. You get to see a lot of interiors with kiddie's dolls. These shots push the film into goo-land. And also some wonderful footage of the period. But not a lot else. I mark this down as a pointless exercise in self indulgence that puts Heavy Water close to a man made disaster.


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