Parents' Guide to


By Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Disturbing tale of corporate greed, nuclear danger, courage.

Movie R 1983 131 minutes
Silkwood Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

Realistic and intriguing

Language 7/10 Violence 1/10 Sex 6/10 Nudity 7/10 - Full female nudity shown during horrifying "decontamination shower"; Streep flashes her bare breast at coworkers
age 13+

It is worth the time!

After watching Silkwood, I became fascinated and mesmerized by the true story behind it. I read the book, bought A&E biography video, and the History Channel's video: Contaminated, the Karen Silkwood Story. Despite reading other comments, I totally disagree about Karen Silkwood who probably saved more lives and lost her own to protect her colleagues and neighbors in Crescent, Oklahoma. If she had not spoke up in the seventies, Kerr-McGhee would still have a nuclear reactor plant in Crescent, Oklahoma. What most people do not know is that Karen's mysterious death haunted a huge ENronlike company. The plant closed in the following year. The shocking discoveries such as missing plutonium and horrible working conditions for its employees. Two showers for the entire company! Karen Silkwood's life was tragically cut short but she did more in 28 years than most people can do in their entire lifetime. Meryl Streep played her wonderfully. Kurt Russell and Cher played their roles quite admirably. This film was showed to high school students who became equally fascinated by the story after viewing the history channel's video. After the film, they even wanted to watch the biography video. Now anything that can keep teenagers interested in plutonium and nuclear energy is worth all the trouble. THis film's only criticism from the students was that there was too much smoking in this film. Granted, all the main characters smoked in the seventies. After all, I think lung cancer from smoking was far less riskier than working in a nuclear plant. Though the outcome is not a happy one, this film proves that one individual speaking out and acting on behalf of a larger group is necessary, admirable, and may require great courage. High on the list of desirable traits portrayed are: taking risks for the safety of others, questioning authority, and providing unconditional love and support for people who are doing the right thing. On the negative side, corporate interests are not to be trusted, depicted as callous, unethical, and perhaps criminal. Karen Silkwood, though unconventional and flawed, proves to be a newly enlightened woman who battles ignorance, corruption, exploitation of the work force, and the ruthlessness of the powerful. She is able to influence only a very few of her fearful, complacent, or unwilling co-workers, but she refuses to give up even when faced with great bodily harm. Karen is a stellar example of someone who has few resources at hand, but uses her intelligence, tenacity, and sense of justice to shake up an unfair, dangerous system. Union representatives are shown as cautious, patronizing, but finally helpful. Not a single member of the corporate hierarchy displays any positive behavior. In several romantic scenes, a man and woman in love engage in kissing, embracing, some foreplay, with one off-camera suggestion of oral sex. A teasing flash of female breast is played as humor. One leading character is involved in a lesbian relationship, but none of the couple's sexual activity is shown.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

For adults and teens who are inspired by such thought-provoking and inspirational stories, this is a welcome and memorable viewing experience, though a disturbing and sad one as well. Never-resolved controversy surrounded the life and death of Karen Silkwood. Mike Nichols, along with a talented creative team, took highly sensitive material, uniformly moving performances, and issues that still resonate with the public, and delivered an outstanding and timeless motion picture.

For adults and teens who are inspired by such thought-provoking and inspirational stories, Silkwood is a welcome and memorable viewing experience, though a disturbing and sad one as well.

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