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.


Mike Nichols
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Meryl Streep ... Karen Silkwood
Kurt Russell ... Drew Stephens
Cher ... Dolly Pelliker
Craig T. Nelson ... Winston
Diana Scarwid ... Angela
Fred Ward ... Morgan
Ron Silver ... Paul Stone
Charles Hallahan ... Earl Lapin
Josef Sommer ... Max Richter
Sudie Bond ... Thelma Rice
Henderson Forsythe Henderson Forsythe ... Quincy Bissell
E. Katherine Kerr ... Gilda Schultz
Bruce McGill ... Mace Hurley
David Strathairn ... Wesley
J.C. Quinn ... Curtis Schultz


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. Written by Susan C. Mitchell <susanm@indirect.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The name and location of the plutonium plant that Karen Silkwood worked for was the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site, which was situated near Crescent, Oklahoma. However, the picture was not shot in Oklahoma. See more »


When men looking for radiation search the house, Karen and Dolly are questioned and Dolly is taken away. Soon afterward, in a close shot of Karen, Dolly is in the background. See more »


[first lines]
Man on the intercom: Name?
Karen Silkwood: Karen Silkwood.
Drew Stephens: Drew Stephens.
Dolly Pelliker: Dolly Pelliker.
See more »


Referenced in The Comeback: Valerie Faces the Critics (2014) See more »


Down The Highway (Reprise)
Written and Performed by Georges Delerue Et Son Orchestre
See more »

User Reviews

Amazing grace of 2 women: Silkwood and Streep
22 June 2014 | by sherineyouserySee all my reviews

What does your own hero look like ?

How do you judge people ?

When should you let go ? And when should you stick around ?

With "amazing grace", the beautiful Meryl Streep and Karen Silkwood have both tried to answer our questions. This wonderful movie wasn't about Silkwood's bravery in demanding people's absolutely basic rights only.

Most of people judge others by their own definition of "honour". You tell a friend about how this woman sleeps with everyone and the word goes on about how this promiscuous woman is a devil. This portrayal of Karen Silkwood will definitely conquer your image and your ways of judgment. As you can see her life ends, you'll know what really matters in life and what real honour looks like. You'll know that each one of us has their own demons, and some more than others, maybe for the bigger part, because they've witnessed what the rest didn't in their lives. You can never judge this woman saying she left her children when she's fighting for the framed pictures they're taking from her as they've found her house's contaminated, you can never judge her emotional and sexual behaviour when you see the look - to Drew- in her eyes before she dies and you can never judge the quality of her life given her psychological disturbance. This beautiful woman fought for what really matters in this life: end of fear .. end of blackmail for money and food. She's a hero by all means, defying all sorts of authorities with absolutely no support most of the time. You can see the struggles of being with someone who wouldn't save the world like you're trying to, but turns out to love you as you are with all your demons.

The real lesson for most people in this movie was about bravery and courage, but for me, it was mostly about acceptance, judgment and what really matters in this life.I can't thank Meryl Streep, Cher, Kurt Russel and Director Mike Nichols enough for this masterpiece, especially the ever-amazing and graceful, Mrs Streep .. You've taught me more than I've ever learnt from anybody in my own life.

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Official Sites:

MGM [United States]





Release Date:

27 January 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Silkwood See more »

Filming Locations:

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,218,322, 18 December 1983

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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