Feb 21, 2023 - News

How a movie predicted Ohio's toxic derailment

Actor Adam Driver stands front and center surrounded by his fictional family in the movie "White Noise."

Netflix's "White Noise," starring Adam Driver, beat the East Palestine derailment to the punch by about three months. Photo: Wilson Webb /Netflix

It isn't long into the film "White Noise" that the line between fiction and reality starts to blur.

  • During the movie's second third, a tanker truck carrying toxic materials crashes into a train in a small Ohio town creating an airborne toxic event. Sound familiar?

Why it matters: On Feb. 3, a real-life freight train derailment occurred in East Palestine, Ohio.

  • Just as in "White Noise," which was released in November on Netflix, the East Palestine derailment resulted in the venting and burning of carcinogenic chemicals.

The intrigue: "White Noise" was shot almost entirely in Northeast Ohio where several East Palestine residents worked as extras in the movie.

What they're saying: Ben Ratner, an East Palestine resident who played an extra in "White Noise," told CNN the film "hits too close to home."

  • "The first half of the movie is all almost exactly what's going on here," Ratner said a week after the derailment. "Everybody's been talking about that."
  • No one associated with the film nor DeLillo has commented on the East Palestine derailment.

State of play: Since the train derailment, the trailer for "White Noise" has been viewed on YouTube more than 325,000 times, more than double the number of views during the previous two weeks.

Threat level: The East Palestine derailment forced hundreds of people to evacuate and caused alarm about toxic fumes and water contamination from spilled materials.

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday that water in East Palestine's municipal system is safe to drink.

Meanwhile, the ending of "White Noise" veers into Hollywood fiction territory with violence and a strange dance number.


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