Hurricane season opens with ‘Hurricane on the Bayou’

By Brett Berg
Posted 6/6/07

Hurricane season opened with a bang as the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile began showing the IMAX film, “Hurricane on the Bayou.” The film enables visitors to witness the destruction of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans …

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Hurricane season opens with ‘Hurricane on the Bayou’


Hurricane season opened with a bang as the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile began showing the IMAX film, “Hurricane on the Bayou.” The film enables visitors to witness the destruction of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and to see the biodiversity of the wetlands, the culture and warm spirit of the people of Louisiana.

As a complement to the film, visitors can step inside a simulator to experience a major hurricane and all its power.

A powerfully moving IMAX, Hurricane on the Bayou carries audiences on a journey deep into the soul-stirring heart of Louisiana — before, during and after the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

“Hurricane on the Bayou” follows a group of four musicians, as they uncover the electrifying culture of New Orleans; explore the beautiful, alligator-filled bayous on airboats; recount their personal stories of Katrina; and most of all, bring the focus to the rapidly disappearing wetlands that are New Orleans’ first line of defense against deadly storms.

The IMAX, from MacGillivray Freeman Films in association with the Audobon Nature Institute, takes viewers on a breathtaking tour of one of the most vibrant places in America, the Louisiana bayou and the city of New Orleans, a place overflowing with life, love, music and heartbreaking natural beauty.

Here, in the region’s bountiful coastal wetlands, alligators, humans and other wildlife have lived in harmony for centuries.  Tragically, these wetlands are eroding into the sea at the speed of one acre every 30 minutes, leaving the entire region more vulnerable to major hurricanes.

“Hurricane on the Bayou” offers an emotional portrayal of this environmental calamity and the staggering effects of one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history, Hurricane Katrina.

MacGillivray Freeman Films has documented tragedy before in the breakthrough film Everest. In “Hurricane on the Bayou,” they bring the same sensitive and emotional depiction of Hurricane Katrina's devastation as told through the stories of some of Louisiana’s most beloved musicians whose lives were dramatically affected by the storm — world-renowned jazz pianist and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee Allen Toussaint; Cajun blues guitarist and environmental activist Tab Benoit; “Blues Queen” Marva Wright; zydeco accordion master Chubby Carrier; and 14-year-old fiddler Amanda Shaw.

With the full force of the IMAX theater medium, the film documents the rapid decline of the wetlands, which protect the coast as natural buffers against hurricanes; tracks the impending arrival of Hurricane Katrina; and documents the deadly storm’s aftermath and effects on the wetlands and citizens of New Orleans.

The resulting images are among some of the powerful ever to be seen on the IMAX screen.

Hurricane Katrina was not always a part of the film’s story When Katrina hit in August 2005, the MacGillivray Freeman filmmakers had just completed production in New Orleans on a film about what could happen if a major hurricane hit the city.

The film was intended as a warning about the destructive effects of a natural disaster just like Katrina. When Katrina touched down just four months later, it inevitably became part of the story, and the filmmakers returned to New Orleans to record the hurricane’s devastating aftermath in the IMAX format.

Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actress Meryl Streep and featuring a rousing soundtrack that includes the best of New Orleans blues and gospel spirituals, “Hurricane on the Bayou” continues MacGillivray Freeman’s tradition of producing films that promote greater conservation of our natural world and cultural heritage.

It is both a festive, blues-infused celebration and a somber environmental warning, a poetic tribute to America’s most unique city and an emotional call to action, and it presents a deeply moving case as to why we must save one of our country’s most important environmental and cultural treasures — New Orleans.

The SouthernLINC Wireless Hurricane Simulator is also open, and enables visitors the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be inside the storm.

Imitating a category one hurricane, the simulator is included in the admission cost of the Exploreum.

The film will run through Oct. 4, and the simulator will be operating through August.

For more information on “Hurricane on the Bayou,” or any of the exhibits at the Exploreum, call 208-6873 or visit