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"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Intrepidity of an ordinary life

It's time for the Reel of the Week from my list of favorite movies. This week it's 1983's SILKWOOD. It's an engrossing real life who done it, or more of a Did someone do it? I think besides "A CRY IN THE DARK", it is absolutely, for me, one of Meryl Streeps best performances. She portrays Karen Silkwood, a rebellious, passionate & mischievous woman. Someone thought to be the most unlikely person to become a Labor Union Activist. She was employed as a chemical technician for Kerr-McGee, a Uranium Fuel production Company in Oklahoma. Karen was disturbed by safety violations she witnessed while working in the metallography department. She relayed her concerns to the Labor Union & was asked to testify in front of the Atomic Energy Commission, along with her best friend and co-worker Dolly Pellitier. Played with a brilliant lack of selfconsciousness by Cher. Also her live-in lover Drew (Kurt Russell), who is simultaneously devoted to Karen and frustrated by the total abandonment in which she lives her life.
When Ker-McGee gets wind of what they view as collusion with the Labor Union,Karen's life starts to become the terrifying stuff of nightmares.
During a routine exposure check, Karen is found to have been exposed to 400 times the legal limit of plutonium, which fuels supposition as to how this happened. Karen's explanation & Kerr-McGee's are wildly divergent.
Her life from then on becomes a living hell. Her fellow employees & friends are forced to take sides. Her decision to get involved with the labor Union affects everyone she hold dear. Ultimately a very high price is paid by all involved.
SILKWOOD is probably one of the earliest films depicting consequences of becoming a Whistle Blower. The courage it takes to go against the flow of things.
SILKWOOD is a well written, well crafted, taut tale, written by the talented & much missed Nora Ephron.
The mystery surrounding Karen Silkwood remains to this day. Is it a cautionary tale of strength & courage or the stuff of legend.Maybe something in between.

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