IMAX movie: Hurricane on the Bayou
While in New Orleans with my family in March 2012 my sons and I saw the IMAX movie "Hurricane on the Bayou".
I thought this would be a movie about a major weather event (Hurricane Katrina) and it is, but it has a strong environmental message.
The movie starts off discussing New Orleans the place, the natural habitat, and some of the culture of the city and of the people who live on the swamps. The movie is told by a young teen girl who is a blues singer. She visits a swamp-dwelling man who is a songwriter and musician. They music they make separately and together is throughout the film. There are many scenes of pre-Katrina swamps and the wild creatures.
Then Hurrican Katrina hits and footage of the storm is shown including what is happening in the wild areas as well as the tradgey of the stranded city-dwellers who chose not to evacute. The film shows the girl and her family evacuating to a hotel for the storm. The home of the girl's grandparents is hit so the story shows that aftermath on a personal level as well as showing the aftermath of strangers. It is an emotional move which is sure to tug at the heartstrings of people of all ages, and it was crafted to seem to target the attention and hearts of children as well. (The scene of the baby alligators being swept away from their mother is one I'll never forget and it probably will upset some children.)
The film then shifts to its environmental message. It is said that the choice to build canals brought salt water to mix into formerly fresh water areas. This killed plants and trees. The loss of shoreline swamp meant the loss of land mass which they say used to act as a buffer to slow down hurricanes so they often would not hit land. The science of hurricanes is taught. Then it shows how much land mass has disappeared in the last century which is scary to see in the computer-generated visual graphic. The message is that man is bad for having made what turned out to be bad-for-the-environment decisions, which now is negatively impacting humans in this area as they are now at risk for personal loss from being victims of future hurricanes.
I found the movie visually stunning and the storytelling was well written and effective at both teaching the facts in an interesting way and also combining it with emotionally loaded personal narrative of the young teen and the other people highlighted in the move. The movie educated about weather, the place that is New Orleans, the swamp dwellers, the unique habitat of the bayou and about the wild creatures. The movie was at first lighthearted and fun, then it was serious and suspenseful, then the environmental punch at the end infused negative emotions and sadness.
I did not know anything about the canals and their negative impact on the bayou environment or that the bayou acted as a buffer to stop hurricanes from hitting the shore, all that information was new to me.
I give the movie 5 stars for storytelling, music, and visuals, even though the hard hitting environmental message at the end was a downer, having us leave the theatre with a feeling of sadness and a heavy heart. I wished the movie left me feeling at least more hopeful but when it ended I felt down.
This is one of those IMAX movies that was fantastic on that big screen and would not translate as well to the small screen.
(Now I am going to research this topic more to see if the information it contained was skewed, exaggerated or one-sided.)