Movie Review: “The Great Invisible” Is Recommended For All To See


Review by James McDonald

A documentary on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion as seen through the eyes of oil executives, survivors and Gulf Coast residents who experienced it first-hand and then were left to pick up the pieces while the world moved on.

On April 20th, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was situated in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded, killing 11 people and injuring dozens more. A U.S. government report said the cause of the accident was defective cement on the well and it is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. According to government estimates, the well was gushing an average of 2.4 million gallons a day. After the explosion and subsequent sinking of the rig, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed for 87 days until it was capped on the 15th of July that same year.

While BP was cleaning up the spill in the Gulf and the fishermen, oystermen and shrimpers who made a living from working on the ocean to feed their families and their communities, were left jobless and unemployed, executives with Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, received big bonuses. They said, “Not withstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record.” An “exemplary statistical safety record?” Wouldn’t that mean that their company would have to have zero accidents and absolutely no loss of human and in this instance, marine life?

People along the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Florida struggled to find work after the spill and even after BP stated that everyone affected from the accident would be compensated, many of the claims were refused, some with no adequate explanation. Eventually, BP would plead guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, two misdemeanors, and a felony count of lying to Congress and they also agreed to a record-setting $4.525 billion in fines and other payments. As of February 2013, criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund had cost the company $42.2 billion.

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Congress has not passed any new safety legislation for the petroleum industry. Watching the empty and desolate shipyards and docklands that were once filled with hundreds of people, going about their daily jobs, was eerie. It almost felt like I was watching a movie about the end of times but this was and is, reality. Even though the world has moved on, there are many who are still suffering from the effects of this catastrophic disaster. Even though the flow of oil was contained and declared sealed on the 19th of September, 2010, there are some reports that indicate the well site continues to leak.

Now playing in select theaters and at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas


James McDonald
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