Silkwood (1983)

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Released 14-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 126:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mike Nichols
ABC Motion Pictures
MRA Entertainment
Starring Meryl Streep
Kurt Russell
Craig T. Nelson
Diana Scarwid
Fred Ward
Ron Silver
Charles Hallahan
Josef Sommer
Sudie Bond
Henderson Forsythe
E. Katherine Kerr
Bruce McGill
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Georges Delerue

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Not very long ago I sang the praises of Meryl Streep's courageous acting choices in her portrayal of the entirely unsympathetic British spy in Plenty, Fred Schepisi's adaptation of David Hare's acclaimed World War Two set play. How humbling then to find this extraordinary actress again transforming herself into an utterly different yet entirely believable character in another even better film, Silkwood. Directed by Oscar winner Mike Nichols, who recently re-teamed with Streep in the multiple Emmy winning miniseries Angels in America, this compelling and often disturbing 1983 drama charts the story of Karen Silkwood (Streep).  She is an employee at a Oklahoman plant that processes radioactive materials who, having seen her fellow workers and herself exposed to radiation, begins investigating the safety standards of the plant, and questioning some less than satisfactory practices. A few of you may notice some degrees of similarity between this story and the hit 2000 Julia Roberts vehicle Erin Brockovich. Let me say this - if you enjoyed that film I think you will find much to appreciate in Silkwood, in my opinion a far more impressive and damning portrait of the lengths to which big business sometimes goes to further and protect its own interests. Karen is a free-spirited, straight-talking young woman yet her past is marked by an obviously painful separation from her almost husband and children. As she gradually uncovers the horrifying actions of her employers this mature, responsible side of her personality comes more to the fore, building to her travelling to Washington D.C. to speak with investigative reporters and government officials.

    Joining Streep in the lead roles are Cher as her lesbian housemate whose love Karen cannot reciprocate and Kurt Russell in arguably one of his very finest performances as Karen's partner. The performances of all three are entirely believable, heartbreakingly so at times, and on many occasions I think people will be struck by how realistic their conversations seem. Credit for that must go not only to the cast but screenwriter Nora Ephron, who has penned the eagerly awaited big screen adaptation of Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this film is that, like Erin Brockovich, the story is based on fact. Thankfully, though, this film, unlike many of its type, has been so well crafted and convincingly performed that it never feels like a made-for-TV melodrama. Only on occasion could one argue that the filmmakers belabour their point a little too much, however I challenge anyone to be unmoved by the horrific scenes of the plant workers realising their contamination and being dragged into a room to be scrubbed viciously with harsh chemicals and scourers. Whilst it appears difficult to tell this story with an even hand, the creative team do succeed in portraying Karen's bosses with some dimensionality and certainly do not back away from casting the union representatives in an unflattering light. This is a powerful and necessary film.

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Transfer Quality


    Considering the twenty year age of the film it looks surprisingly good. It is presented at approximately its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

    Levels of sharpness are solid and stable if not excellent. Shadow detail is more than acceptable.

    There are some occasional instances of grain but these aren't too distracting.

    The colour palette is muted and is dominated by smoky blues and greys. It certainly looks like a 1980s flick. Natural light is used quite extensively outside, which contrasts effectively with the floodlit sterility of the plant. Skin tones are generally well rendered.

    Aliasing and other film to video artefacts were not of major concern, although occasional landscape pans did shimmer a little.

    Surprisingly for me at least was the cleanness of the print used - there were virtually no major film artefacts, and the occasional specks of dirt did not prove a major distraction.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    We are presented with a solitary English Dolby Stereo 2.0 track that is eminently suitable for this dialogue heavy film.

    Audio sync is beyond reproach.

    There were no detectable dropouts or audio blemishes.

    Dialogue is well presented although some may struggle initially with the southern accents - particularly Cher's.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are, unsurprisingly, given virtually nothing to do.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras to speak of.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Based on the information available, the Region 1 release from MGM seems to miss out on 16x9 enhancement but gains a relatively good trailer. I would still opt for our local product though, unless you are mad keen on trailers.


    A fantastic film with outstanding performances.

    The video is decent, especially for the film's age.

    The audio is fine.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R1 does have English subtitles listed. - penguin (there is no bio)
one of the best movies of the eighties - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Thanks - Andrew500
Boring - Frank REPLY POSTED