Erin Brokovich was a woman who, along with the Lawyer, Ed Masry, managed to construct a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California back in 1993 for polluting the town’s water supply, causing many to be born with birth defects, such as missing an ear, cleft lip, palate and slight retardation which she did despite her lack of legal education.
The movie adaption made in 2000 starring Julia Roberts as the titular character (earning her an Oscar) and Albert Finney as Ed Masry (for which he got an Oscar nomination) is similar in many ways to the real events, but, as any movie, has overdramatized some events, examples being the amount of money given to the victims. Roberta Walker (Donna Jensen in the movie) wasn’t given the 5$ she was in the movie. Instead the victims received on average about $300 000 each, with dissatisfaction due to the uneven distribution amongst the plaintiffs, with there even being said that “if you were buddies with Ed and Erin, you got a lot of money”.
Additionally Masry had been contacted by Walker, and he brought Brokovich along, unlike in the movie where Brokovich found some medical records in the file regarding PG&E wanting to purchase Walker’s home and decided to visit. I’m thinking the change was made to make it seem like Brokovich was the one who did everything start to finish. She did, however, help gain evidence and testimony, adding up to 650 plaintiffs.
Another thing they didn’t mention in the movie was that “George”, Brokovich’s love interest, tried to extort money from her and was arrested following the release of the movie.
The point is, even if she was less amazing in real life than the movie made her out to be, she did still do what she did almost single handedly, even with all odds against her, even while being a woman with no husband, three kids and very little money, and I think that’s admirable.