September 23, 2019  (Web Review)

Kilauea: Hawaii on Fire

(2019) 60 min. DVD: $24.99 ($54.99 w/PPR). PBS Video ( SDH captioned. ISBN: 978-1-5317-0913-6.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Many watched news reports or read about the eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island in the spring of 2018, but how many recall that the eruption lasted for three months, spread across 14 square miles, and destroyed over 700 properties, many in residential neighborhoods? Filmmaker Pete Chinn’s informative PBS-aired NOVA documentary revisits this destructive and transformative volcanic event, tracking the path of the molten lava while also examining scientific findings and research that emerged from this natural phenomenon. Amazing footage that looks like something out of a horrifying sci-fi movie shows billowing clouds of steam, fissures opening in roadways, and huge streams of lava with temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit rolling across the terrain. Scientists and others—including residents and a Hawaii culture expert—discuss the eruption, while volcanologists gather lava and ashy material for laboratory examination and analyzation to compare with earlier eruptions seen in vintage clips. Eric Meyers’s clear narration ably links onscreen interviews, contemporary and archival footage, computer graphics, and animated maps. Kilauea, which has a crater larger and deeper than the Empire State Building, finally became dormant in October 2018. Documenting the massive destruction of the recent Kilauea eruption while also exploring the larger subject of Hawaii’s volcanoes, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (S. Beauregard)