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||IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from 12,985 votes
||Release: 27 January 1984 (USA) /
||Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller
||Director: Mike Nichols,
||Stars: Bruce McGill, Charles Hallahan, Cher, Craig T. Nelson, David Strathairn, Diana Scarwid, E. Katherine Kerr, Fred Ward, Henderson Forsythe, J.C. Quinn, Josef Sommer, Kurt Russell, Meryl Streep, Ron Silver, Sudie Bond
||Synopsis: Fairly accurate recounting of the story of Karen Silkwood, the Oklahoma nuclear-plant worker who blew the whistle on dangerous practices at the Kerr-McGee plant and who died under circumstances which are still under debate. Written by Susan C. Mitchell <[email protected]>
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Watch Silkwood - Alternative Versions.
I saw "Silkwood" again recently, and it seemed to make sense of the
past 25 years of my life -- I finally understood why I began doing what
When I was sixteen years old I broke both legs, and was out of school
for two months. But twice a week my father, who worked nights as a
security guard at the Kerr-McGee office building, took me downtown to
the federal courthouse in Oklahoma City, to watch the proceedings of
the Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee trial during morning sessions. He insisted I
go, he said, "So you'll learn something." I learned a lot about people
then, and about the law, and the experience certainly took my mind off
my own physical discomfort.
Mr. Paul, an excellent corporate lawyer, represented Kerr-McGee, which
leased the operation of the plutonium plant in Crescent, Oklahoma,
about thirty miles north of here. Mr. Spence represented the children
of Karen Silkwood. Mr. Paul and his six associates seemed to change
their suits every day. Perhaps they didn't want to see like the "great
gray wall" -- which was the stereotype of corporate lawyers. But the
net effect of seven men striving to seem individual was that of a great
plumed serpent preparing to devour any small creature in its path. Mr.
Spence, on the other hand, wore the same buckskin fringed coat each
day. Each day he would place his Stetson on his table. He and the hat
sat in splendid silence while the Kerr-McGee attorneys conferred and
Both men counted on the sentiments of a working-class jury. Mr. Paul
figured people would recognize the contribution made to the community
by Kerr-McGee, a locally owned business with world-wide influence,
which provided many jobs to people here. Mr. Spence counted on them
harboring deep suspicions, after having been treated like throw-away
people for so many years by other employers of the same size as
Kerr-McGee. My father was such a person. He worked for Kerr-McGee, but
he distrusted corporate politics, and rightly figured they'd let him go
right before he qualified for a pension. Later, that's exactly what
Mr. Spence has sued the corporation for 2 million dollars. But the jury
awarded him, and Karen Silkwood's children, five times that much.
Later, thanks to an excellent foundation laid by Mr. Paul, Kerr-McGee
was able to get the conviction overturned, then eventually settled for
a payment of 1 million dollars to the grown children. Of course, Mr.
Spence took about half of that, and after taxes, I suppose each of the
three children had about enough to get a college education, or to buy a
new truck and have a down payment on a house.
That's what happened to me. My father died not longer after being let
go by Kerr-McGee. There was enough insurance money to pay for my
college education. Then my mother died. For many years the social
atmosphere in the Kerr-McGee offices, where one of my friends worked as
a draftsman, prevented anyone from ever saying anything good about
Karen Silkwood. I will not repeat was generally said about her, or her
social life, her motivations or her politics.
I never met her, but I did see and hear the people who were for Karen
Silkwood, and those who were against her, at the trial. It was clear to
me that whatever else she may have been, she was a courageous person.
By the time the movie was released, I was a junior in college, and
suddenly changed my major to drama. After graduation, I found work with
a film production company which filmed herds of cattle -- "Video
Auction" was its name. Then I went to California, where I taught drama,
or worked as a stage manager, for twenty years.
Watching "Silkwood" last week, for the first time in 24 years, reminded
me of what the trial, and later the movie, showed me -- the part of you
that lasts is what you have done for others. The lawyers will take
Tags for Silkwood Full Movie
, Charles Hallahan
, Craig T. Nelson
, David Strathairn
, Diana Scarwid
, E. Katherine Kerr
, Fred Ward
, Henderson Forsythe
, J.C. Quinn
, Josef Sommer
, Kurt Russell
, Meryl Streep
, Ron Silver
, Sudie Bond
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