Chernobyl: The Final Warning (1991)

TV Movie   |  Unrated   |    |  Drama, History

Chernobyl: The Final Warning (1991) Poster

True story about the tragic nuclear power plant accident in Chernobyl and how one American specialist, Dr. Robert Gale, helped the soviet doctors treat the survivors.


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1 win.

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16 February 2019 | Rodrigo_Amaro
| Pretty decent job
With the Cold War in its dying days and a weakened Soviet Union in the final years of the 1980's, a TV company decided to make a film about what brought them to that fate - hey, this isn't a fuly politically charged film, it's a view that I have on it: the Chernobyl disaster. That's what brought USSR down when their weakness was spotted and sensed through the world to a point of no return, technology was sufficient enough in other places know that something bad happened in that facility in 1986, which later became known as the most catastrophic radialogical disaster of all time - later surpassed by Fukushima. The movie? Pretty decent and fair, presenting characters who weren't concerned in political or ideologial fights...this is the story of a group of American doctors led by Dr. Robert Gale (Jon Voight) who understand the situation, the tragedy and want to learn from it and help those affected by the inumerous cases of diseases brought on by radiation. Gale and his team mates will meet and fight the bureacratic and resistant system of a decaying and Communist power in order to save lives. That's a side of the Chernobyl story that is barely told: the willing Americans who arrived early on after the disaster take place - only possible because by then Mr. Gorbachev and his glasnost ("openness") allowed them to become less stricted to the world community.

My quarrels with the movie is with its simplicty, without going further with the thoughts and emotions that came to Gale, the doctor nicely played by Jason Robards and others when it comes to let them imagine such a scenario happening in America. Then, they had Three Mile Island and another small one in the 1970's but everything was fine. But they saw first hand accounts on how devastating the explosion was, it's effects on people and how the Soviet government was conducting everything - it's like let us improvise, we don't have a book of procedures on those things but one thing is certain: the world must not know the level of danger or what really happened. We needed a movie that could express their opinions.

I don't recall if the movie actually mentioned but it was when Switzerland alarms detected heavy polluted air movement coming towards them that was what pressured authorities to demand a position from USSR about what happened and then almost a month later Gorbachev made his speech, condemning Western media from spreading false news about the death toll and such - for those immersed and wanting to go deeper into the Chernobyl topic, search and see the updates of what is really true.

However, for an American film about the tragedy this is a highly commendable one. All that came in the following years were either good documentaries (HBO's "Chernobyl Heart" is powerfully devastating and gripping, and it shows much of the aftermath with the cancer cases on children) or horror spectacles that only explored the dangers in being on that part of Ukraine, dealing with mutations, aliens or creatures attacking those who dared to enter there - since it's surroundings consists of abandoned places with scary levels of radiation. What you see in this "Final Warning" isn't much gore, it feels real, there's panic, several dramatic parts and there's even times when you can glimpse archive footage of the event - mostly the aerial shots of the place and the whole destruction of the facility's core.

What gets me the most being possibly the very first film on the topic back in the day, it's the good performances of Voight (finally a passionate and interesting one of his in a long time); Mr. Robards is always a classy act; and Sammi Davis, who plays the concerned wife of someone involved in the rescue of Chernobyl victims. And there's this old couple who refuses to leave their home, located next to the usine, and they reminded me of that lovely Brit animation "Where the Wind Blows?", which presented a couple who survived a nuclear blast coming from a possible WWIII but were slowly living their final days. The couple here have like three scenes or so, but the final haunting. It's with them you get the most important questions: the finality of technology, nuclear devices that drives us forward in few ways but it's deadly when something goes wrong. What's the point? Researches prove: it's uneffective, harmful, costly yet some nations keep on using it. Not necessairly an eye-opener of a film - maybe to some - but it's good for some debate. Movies are for that too. 8/10


Release Date:

22 April 1991


English, Russian

Country of Origin

USA, UK, Soviet Union

Filming Locations

Los Angeles, California, USA

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