/ Opinions / ‘Dark Waters’ a riveting depiction of a real-life tragedy

‘Dark Waters’ a riveting depiction of a real-life tragedy

April 17, 2020 by Kayla Houp

Some of the best movies find their roots in real life, and “Dark Waters” is no different.

Directed by Todd Haynes and written by Mario Correra and Matthew Michael Carnahan, “Dark Waters” dramatizes corporate defense lawyer Robert Bilott’s case against chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after the corporation contaminates a town with unregulated chemicals.

Bilott, who specializes in defending chemical companies, has been asked by a local farmer, Wilbur Tennant, to investigate a number of unexplained  cattle deaths in a town in West Virginia that he had connected to chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont.

Bilott visits Tennant’s farm where he learns a large amount of cattle have died with unusual medical conditions and files a small suit to gather information on the chemicals dumped at the site. 

As his investigation continues, Bilott discovers the devastating impact DuPont has had on the town, as well the long-term effects of the environmental pollution on the town and its well-being.

At its core, “Dark Waters” is about a quest for the truth and bringing justice to a town traumatized by a large corporation’s greed and willingness to dump hazardous chemicals in a town in which they were the primarly employer.

While the real life event, and the 20-year-long legal battle that followed, are worth the research themselves, the film brings new light to the case and tells the real-life story of Bilott and his fight to honor the victims of DuPont’s pollution.

Based on an article published in The New York Times in 2016 titled, “The Lawyer Who Became Dupont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich, “Dark Waters” is an intelligent and honest film that doesn’t sacrifice facts or mince words in its tale of a lawyer fighting corporate malfeasance for the sake of a town taken advantage of.

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]

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