Oct 23, 201309:52 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
Hurricane Katrina on the Big Screen
I often drive by this house on my way to work. You can still see the "X" from Katrina on the door.
Like I've said on this blog before, I'm a big movie buff. So as both a fan of movies and a new New Orleanian, I've been particularly interested in the rumors about two Hurricane Katrina movies in the works.
First, there are plans to make the popular book, Five Days at Memorial, into a movie, Deadline Hollywood reported earlier this month. The book, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink, is about the staff at Memorial Medical Center during Katrina and the chaos and ethical dilemmas they faced. I loved the book, so I'm looking forward to see how it works as a film. Adding to this news, another movie, The American Can, is also being talked about, according to Mike Scott, the movie critic for The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com. IMDB says the film is still in pre-production, but the plan is for Will Smith to star as the real John Keller, who helped people trapped in the American Can apartments during Katrina.
Whenever these films come out, I'll be anxious to see how New Orleanians react to them compared to how the rest of the world reacts. I’m guessing most of America will be surprised to be reminded of the hell people went through during and after Katrina because it seems like the disaster is something many people outside of New Orleans don't think about much anymore. I first noticed this when one of my friends from Missouri came to visit me in New Orleans. When Chris and I were telling her about the Katrina damage in our neighborhood, my friend looked confused and said, “Really? Hasn’t it been like eight years? Haven’t they fixed this already?”
I can understand why my friend would think this. New Orleans is still a popular tourist spot – the city saw 9.01 million visitors in 2012. New Orleans hosted Super Bowl XLVII and might host another one soon. There have been many stories about New Orleans attracting lots of startups and experiencing a “real estate boom.” From the outside, New Orleans looks pretty much fixed.
And New Orleans has come a long way since Katrina, I have been told, but I’ve also noticed there are reminders of Hurricane Katrina everywhere, such as the X markings that still remain on some houses. As someone who did not go through Katrina, these constant reminders are something for which I have been very curious. I have heard a lot of Katrina stories since moving here, and I’m still shocked by how resilient the city has been since the disaster.
I know I will never fully understand what it was like to go through Katrina. I never had to sit through traffic for 12 hours trying to evacuate. I never smelled the stench of the city after the storm. I never had to call FEMA to get a generator for my house.
But now that I know people who went through all of these things, I look at Hurricane Katrina in a different way, which is why I am very curious about these upcoming films. I hope they are worth watching and I hope they show the true stories of what New Orleans went through during Katrina. We out-of-towners will never totally understand how bad it was and how much it impacted the city, but we know it is an event that will never be forgotten in New Orleans. I hope all of the upcoming movies about Katrina do it justice.