Taglines: On November 13, 1974, Karen Silkwood, an employee of a nuclear facility, left to meet with a reporter from the New York Times. She never got there.
Seventies. Oklahoma. The plutonium purification plant is going through hard times. The employees of the factory are very worried about the fact that they revealed violations of the cleaning technology inside the production. They cannot understand what exactly caused this story. All that was required of them, the workers did.
It remains to be understood where they sinned so. Why were they set up in an unexpected way? Turning to experts, the ladies proved that many of them are already contaminated with radioactive substances. This caused great concern among the public and many questions to the factory administration.
Creators: Nora Ephron, Alice Arlen
Director: Mike Nichols
Star Cast: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher
Producer (s): Michael Hausman, Mike Nichols
Cinematographer: Miroslav Ondříček
Production House: ABC Motion Pictures
Music: Georges Delerue
Original network / Official Sites: 20th Century Fox
Release Year: 27 January 1984 (USA)
Runtime: 131 min
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Thriller
A worker at a plutonium processing plant is purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing worker safety violations at the plant.
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.
Karen Silkwood, a worker at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site (near Crescent, Oklahoma), shares a ramshackle house with two co-workers, her boyfriend Drew Stephens and her lesbian friend Dolly Pelliker. She makes MOX fuel rods for nuclear reactors, where she deals with the threat of exposure to radiation. She has become a union activist, concerned that corporate practices may adversely affect the health of workers. She is also engaged in a conflict with her former common-law husband in an effort to have more time with their three children.
Because the plant has ostensibly fallen behind on a major contract – fabricating MOX fuel rods for a breeder reactor at the Hanford Site – employees are required to work long hours and weekends of overtime. She believes that managers are falsifying safety reports and cutting corners wherever possible, risking the welfare of the personnel. Karen approaches the union with her concerns and becomes active in lobbying for safeguards. She travels to Washington, D.C. to testify before the Atomic Energy Commission. She interacts with union officials who appear to be more interested in the publicity she is generating than her welfare and that of her co-workers.
When Silkwood and other workers become contaminated by radiation, plant officials try to blame her for the incident. When she sees weld sample radiographies of fuel rods being retouched to hide shoddy work, and that records of inadequate safety measures had been altered, she decides to investigate further herself. Complications arise in her personal life when Angela, a funeral parlor beautician, joins the household as Dolly’s lover. Unable to deal with Silkwood’s obsession with gathering evidence, and suspecting her of infidelities, Drew moves out.
Once she feels she has gathered sufficient documentation, Silkwood contacts a reporter from The New York Times and arranges a nighttime meeting. In the film’s final moments Silkwood leaves a union meeting, carrying documentation of her findings on her way to meet with the journalist. She sees approaching headlights in her rear-view mirror. The scene fades out as the lights draw up so close that they distract and blind her, preventing her from seeing the road ahead. The scene fades in again on the aftermath of her fatal one-car crash. There are no documents to be found in the car wreck.