Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dispatches from the Gulf

Film Review by Kam Williams

Eco-Documentary Assesses State of the Gulf of Mexico Six Years after Catastrophic Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig claimed 11 lives while igniting a fireball that could be seen as far as 40 miles away. The blowout also triggered a leak of over 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in American history. 
Short term, the frightening disaster certainly had a catastrophic effect on the Gulf's fisheries, fauna, water and wildlife. Nevertheless, many wondered whether the region would ever recover from the tragedy. 
A team of experts decided to tackle that question, and the upshot of that effort is Dispatches from the Gulf, an eco-documentary directed by Hal Weiner (Journey to Planet Earth). Narrated by Matt Damon, the film relates some very surprising findings on the part of the scientists. 
For example, they learned that "the sun has done a remarkable job of breaking down the oil molecules." About half of the petroleum slime has evaporated, a quarter of it washed up on beaches, and the other quarter was either burned or siphoned off by dispersants. 
In terms of the seafood industry, it turns out that Gulf fish have substantially recovered, although they are generally smaller than they used to be. However, they did discover contaminated coral still consuming oil on the ocean floor when they descended via submersible to a depth of 5,000 feet.

In the end, the group concluded that the monitoring of the Gulf must continue, as there are no easy answers and no quick fixes for this unprecedented, man-made calamity with unanticipated fallout remaining a distinct possibility. Meanwhile, the next time you're in New Orleans, consider it perfectly safe to order the gumbo again!

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 60 minutes
Distributor: Screenscope

To see a trailer for Dispatches from the Gulf, visit:

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