Incredible then, that something so scientifically precise as nuclear science can produce such inconsistencies when that science fails. But what numbers and statistics cannot show is the uncountable sociological problems associated with the accident; the feelings of loss; the sense of abandonment by the Ukrainian State. And the tears.
The controversy of the film has been expressed by charities who work with Chernobyl victims. Chief Executive of UK charity ‘Chernobyl Children’s Life Line’, Dennis Vystavkin told me how he thinks “the film is disgusting, it’s doing our heads in”.
Why then, with something so obviously tragic, does a film like Chernobyl Diaries exist?
The answer, in part is based on a latent Orientalism, a perception of Eastern-Europe as somehow backward, strange and ‘other’. One only has to look at recent films such as Borat (2006), which portrayed Kazakhstan as primitive and racist, or Hostel (2005) where once more Eastern-Europe was presented as a place of savage post-socialist depravity. Not to mention ‘A Serbian Film’ (2010). The recent coverage of Euro 2012 continued this negative portrayal, with ITV commentator Peter Drury exclaiming after Poland scored an equalizer against Russia: “from president to peasant, they’re all cheering!” – reinforcing the tired stereotype of Slavic people. You can imagine Drury preparing that line before the game ‘What do Poland and Russia have in common? That’s it – peasants!’.