Exploris in downtown Raleigh is closed until Sept. 29 as part of its merger with Playspace to form a new children’s museum. However, the Exploris IMAX theater is still open and its newest feature, Hurricane on the Bayou, is both visually stunning and surprisingly relevant.
Narrated by Meryl Streep, the 2006 film was originally intended to provide viewers with a scenic trip through the wetlands of New Orleans, combining local music and sights with an environmental message about the threats brought about by the wetlands’ erosion. Three months after the initial footage was shot in 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the city, bringing the film’s warnings to life.
In its first incarnation, entitled Hurricane Warning, the film featured special effects stimulating a Category 5 hurricane hitting the city and actors portraying citizens being rescued from rooftops. These effects soon gave way to real-life footage depicting Katrina’s devastation in chilling detail.
While the film features excellent music from a variety of New Orleans artists, including stars Tab Benoit and Amanda Shaw, and vivid footage of the alligators that populate the wetlands, it’s most valuable as a tool that simply and effectively lays out the ways in which mankind’s meddling helped lead to the Katrina disaster. The film is accessible to all ages, and it’s a superb primer on what happened in New Orleansand a reminder that environmentalists’ warnings are more than just speculation.