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5 Movies About Water Controversy

Out of all things that exist on our planet, perhaps none is more important than water. Water is necessary for hydration, cleaning, plumbing, and a bevy of other purposes. It should come as no surprise then that water has been the centerpiece of many a Hollywood movie.

While some of these movies quite simply just involve water, others highlight topics such as water purification, water poverty, and water filtration, as well as the controversy that often surrounds these things. Here are 5 movies about water controversy.


Released in 1974,
Chinatown is a neo-noir classic directed by Roman Polanski, and starring Jack Nicholson. Influenced by the California Water Wars that took place between the city of Los Angeles and its nearby farmers in the early 20th century, the movie revolves around a private detective who is hired to investigate the chief engineer of the Los Angeles Water and Power Company.

In the midst of his investigation, the detective discovers a ploy to steal water from surrounding areas in an effort to up the city of Los Angeles’ water supply. As he becomes more heavily involved in the investigation, he stumbles into a web of corruption, deceit, and murder.

Erin Brockovich

Based on the true story of environmental activist Erin Brockovich,
Erin Brockovich is a 2000 film directed by Steven Soderbergh which stars Julia Roberts. The movie follows Brockovich as she works on a legal case against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

In the midst of the case, she discovers that there are excess amounts of chromium present in the water of Hinkley, CA; the town she works in. The existence of the chromium is responsible for an outbreak of cancer in the Hinkley area; something that the Pacific Gas & Electric Company makes efforts to cover up. Throughout the movie, Brockovich works to prove the coverup and save the town of Hinkley.

Promised Land

A 2012 film directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt Damon,
Promised Land is a film about two corporate representatives who travel to a struggling Pennsylvania town in an attempt to buy land for fracking purposes. Fracking is the practice of using hydraulic drills to go far below the earth’s crust so that a number of untapped fossil fuels can be utilized.

As the two representatives spend time in the town, they start to see that fracking has the potential to contaminate water. Damon’s character, who is one of the representatives, becomes caught up in a controversy that permeates throughout the entire town. The film is a scathing commentary on the environmental impacts of fracking as well as the need for quality water filtration.

A Civil Action

A Civil Action is a 1998 film directed by Steven Zaillian that stars John Travolta and Robert Duvall. Based on a true story, it follows Jan Schlichtmann, an attorney who is building a case against Beatrice Foods and W.R. Grace & Company for the possibility that they’ve been dumping contaminants into the city’s water supply.

The contaminants are responsible for the deaths of several children in the area, and a litany of families file a class action lawsuit against the companies in an attempt to have the water supply cleaned. It’s up to Schlichtmann to win the case so that a deal can be brokered for the regulation of water purification practices.


2010 short film
Denmark is an animated movie directed by Daniel Fickle. The movie follows the life of a small crustacean named Pily. As a crustacean, Pily lives in a home under water. However, eventually it becomes apparent to Pily that his home is becoming polluted by contaminants which are being let into the water.

He decides that he must escape, prompting him to build a rocket that will shoot him from the depths of the sea onto the surface of the earth. The short film highlights how water contamination affects all living beings; not just humans. In essence, it shows the need for water purification on our planet.

On a more personal level, if you have any questions or concerns about the quality of your water, please call the professionals at Johnson Water Conditioning. For 80 years we have been ensuring Chicago land residents have the highest quality water possible.

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