(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is deemed the United States's worst oil disaster, almost twenty times greater than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Uncapped for three months, the efforts to well spewed an estimated 53,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Virtually every aspect of the attempts to stanch the flow and make reparations have been called into question. DIRTY ENERGY looks at the victims of the disaster and presents a bewildering litany of injustices and inappropriate action. Writer/producer/director Bryan D. Hopkins reports on the damage and collects interviews with the victims of the disaster. While missing fair representation of British Petroleum, the unrepaired ravages of the disaster are shocking and underscore the need for effective regulation of the petroleum industry. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling on behalf of British Petroleum (BP) had a gusher that caused an explosion killing eleven workers. BP found itself unable to cap the wellhead, which spewed every day at least 53,000 barrels of crude oil up into the Gulf of Mexico. BP promised to control to stop the flow and to repair the damage done to the people and the environment. DIRTY ENERGY looks at how far short of the promise BP fell and how little of BP's obligation has been fulfilled.

From the beginning BP's strategy was allegedly more cover up than clean up. Rather than collecting the oil the cleanup people made heavy use of dispersants to spread the released oil more thinly but more widely to be absorbed by more sea life and ending in our food supply. Wild life, fishing, tourism, business, health, and more are victims of the spill and Hopkins goes from one to another assessing the damage done, frighteningly and comprehensively. Interviewees compare the results of this oil spill with that of the Exxon Valdez and compare the size of this disaster with that of Hurricane Katrina.

Issue is taken with the degree of power that BP was given during the time of the cleanup. Effectively BP could close the beaches to people who would want to see that the cleanup was being completed properly. Sadly the only people with anything like the facilities to attack the problems being faced were those with the most to gain by a cover-up. Slicks would be found and reported only to be gone the next day due to overnight use of dispersants to hide the problem.

The film hits again and again on what great earthy people the victims of the oil spill are and what a great life they had taken away from them by the oil spill and its aftermath. I suppose that adds texture to the film, but even if the people were not earthy and did not love what they did, there would have been just as much of an injustice done to them. It is not surprising that Hopkins was unable to get representatives and allies of BP on camera to present their point of view about the disaster. What is missing is evidence that Hopkins even tried. A few instances of where BP was invited to respond and declined would have gone a long way to convince the viewer that Hopkins was at least attempting to present a balanced viewpoint.

Occasionally stylistic choices are questionable. Some of the shots of the disaster are shown with an annoying effect of shaking the image as if it is being lost to satellite interference. This seems like grating and obvious manipulation. Other touches are canny and clever. Beside the closing credits is a list of congressmen who have accepted large PAC donations from the gas and oil industry, the amount, their states and their political parties. (One political party seems very heavily to dominate the list.)

The film ends in a lament that the oil and gas industry are so politically powerful and calls on the viewer to get involved. It might not be a bad idea. I rate DIRTY ENERGY a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. DIRTY ENERGY is currently available on DVD and Video on Demand distributed by Cinema Libre.

Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2071449/

What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dirty_energy/

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2013 Mark R. Leeper