Investigating the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the documentary “The Great Invisible” gives voice to many of the previously nameless and faceless victims of the disaster. Some worked on the oil rig that fateful day; others have suffered its environmental and economic consequences.
Filmmaker Margaret Brown checks in with Deepwater Horizon chief mechanic Doug Brown and rig worker Stephen Stone, as well as with Keith Jones, whose son was among the 11 people killed. Their home movies provide glimpses of the rig inside and out; the film shows Doug Brown and Stone accusing BP and Transocean of cutting corners to save time and money.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the temporary moratorium on offshore drilling pitted the fishery community of Bayou La Batre, Ala., against the rig workers of Morgan City, La. Although BP promised $20 billion for area residents, it inundates them with red tape and, according to the film, rejects nearly half the claims.
In Houston, where oil company delegates gather for the Offshore Technology Conference, industry types at an impromptu round table candidly discuss the renaissance of U.S. drilling, the sense of entitlement of American consumers and the viability of alternative energy sources. (One person compares the explosion of Deepwater Horizon to the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.) By positing that, after taxes, leases for oil drilling sites generate the most revenue for the federal government, the film chillingly hints at how deep the region’s problems may go.
‘The Great Invisible’
No MPAA rating
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.
For the record
Oct. 29, 4 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that “The Great Invisible” was available on VOD; it is currently not available on VOD.