I want to start by saying that this film is extremely insensitive to the victims of Chernobyl, which extend across much of Europe and Asia and not just in the local area, as the film seems to suggest. While Chernobyl victims have suffered from many maladies as a result of the nuclear disaster, the most common of these is thyroid cancer. I don’t want to diminish the awful effects that these victims have suffered but there is no way that the radiation would be able to turn people or their future children, even if they were in the immediate area, into zombies. That being said, The Chernobyl Diaries is in fact an energy narrative.
Four Americans go on an “extreme tourism” trip to visit Pripayat, the town where the workers of Chernobyl lived. The radiation levels have just recently dropped enough for the town to be explored. The leader in the group, Paul, claims that the town will be interesting to look at, as it was abandoned in just a few hours.
Chris: “You guys see where this is going. We’re going to Moscow as we talked about.”
Paul: “Can I please finish? So there’s this place called Pripayat. It’s a town right next to Chernobyl. Uri, [in Eastern European accent] who is very excited to take us there, is an extreme tour guide. He’s gonna show us this city that was abandoned overnight. Literally, they had no time to take anything. Factories, schools, stores, homes, apartments, everything is still there. Imagine the photo shoot you can have there, Amanda?”
Amanda: “Okay I here that but radiation levels or something. It’s probably pretty dangerous, right?”
Paul: Nope, we’ll only be there for a day. A few hours we see some cool s*** and then we split.”
Uri, the tour guide, says that nature has been given free reign to heal itself, and that it has reclaimed the city. If there were a major theme in this movie, this would be it. Pripayat has experienced a return to the wild, and its inhabitants have therefore become animals.
Natalie: “What exactly happened in Chernobyl?”
Uri: “The Chernobyl disaster was a result of failed systems tests. It caused sudden power surge and reactor number four become one with the air.”
Natalie: “One with the air?”
Chris: “It exploded.”
Uri: “Nature has reclaimed its rightful home.”
As most horror films are like to do, after this peaceful yet foreboding exposition, the true horrors come out. Mutant humans, who have been living there for many years, attack the Americans and none of them make it out alive. It is unclear whether or not these mutants are victims of the original disaster and just never made it out or if the government has rounded them up and held them there away from the public. Either way, one thing is clear, Pripayat has indeed returned to its wild side.
Despite the fact that the only true horror in this film is how insensitive it is to the victims of Chernobyl, it does contain several energy narrative characteristics such as nature fighting back and political oppression.
Readers, if you know of some other, less insensitive energy narratives about Chernobyl, please let me know.
Energy narratives found in this movie: life=energy, environmental degradation and destruction, nature fights back, corporate ruthlessness, political oppression, exaggerated inequalities, segregation, convenient racism.