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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, above all, Silkwood is a very sad and disturbing movie about corporate greed and class difference that tells an inspirational story. There is occasional profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "asshole," "bitch," and more, as well as a few slurs: "dyke," "gook." Sexual scenes are presented as loving expressions of feeling and include kissing, embracing, and, except for one brief flash of breast, no nudity. Smoking and beer drinking are continuous and there is one scene in which characters share a marijuana cigarette.
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What's the story?
Karen SILKWOOD (Meryl Streep in a remarkable performance), working class and struggling, is exposed to radiation poisoning while employed in a Kerr-McGee plutonium facility in Oklahoma, 1973. As she becomes increasingly aware of the dangers to her life and to the health of her co-workers, supervisors at the plant become suspicious of her involvement with union organizers. Karen's relationships with her lover, Drew (Kurt Russell at his best) and close friend, Dolly (Golden Globe winner Cher) falter as she is forced to fight alone against the sinister corporate powers who own them all.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that Silkwood is based on a true story. What resources are available that might help you learn more about Karen Silkwood's life and might verify the facts as they've been presented?
The filmmakers made an effort to show many sides of Karen Silkwood. When a character is portrayed as imperfect, does that heighten his or her believability? Why?
Some movies have a definite political point-of-view. Talk about the several issues of concern to the filmmakers in Silkwood. Which of these issues might be relevant today?
- In theaters: December 14, 1983
- On DVD or streaming: October 7, 2003
- Cast: Cher, Kurt Russell, Meryl Streep
- Director: Mike Nichols
- Studio: ABC Motion Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Communication, Courage, Curiosity, Perseverance
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
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