Studio Mythopoetika presents
Animal Rescue Katrina (2006)
"I'm not going to stop rescuing the animals."- Jane Garrison, of Animal Rescue New OrleansDirector: Josef Dykas
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 00h:59m:16s
Release Date: 2007-05-01
DVD ReviewThe scope of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast is almost unfathomable, and this documentary reports on what happened to too many of our four-legged friends—what's so deeply creepy about this film is how the fate of the animals echoes almost exactly that of the biped citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi. The focus is on an impromptu group called Animal Rescue New Orleans, which brought in volunteers from all over, in an effort to do right by the dogs, cats and other pets whose world was turned asunder by the hurricane, and the tales of criminal neglect and lack of interest are absolutely appalling.
There are not a lot of film clips of the storm and its immediate aftermath, so most of the footage here is either of animal rescuers being interviewed, or shots of abandoned, flooded structures after the fact, or still photographs, and as you might anticipate, many of them are deeply upsetting, showing animal cadavers, some bloated with flood water, some picked over leaving little more than bones. Your heart breaks as the camera pans past the filled cages in all the area animal shelters, showing us the longing, sad eyes of homeless dogs and cats, and as we hear tales of horror, such as the authorities forcibly separating blind people from their seeing-eye dogs during the botched evacuation of New Orleans.
Some of the animals have reverted to an almost Hobbesian wildness, with an explosion of puppies and kittens, and lethal outbreaks of parvo and feline leukemia, and your disgust will be palpable with the Louisiana SPCA, which seemed to operate with all of the efficiency of Brownie's FEMA. Their heckuva job included (but was not limited to) incompetence, cronyism, suspicion of out of towners, along with sipping lots of coffee and a blithe willingness to euthanize—and the result is not just longer lines at the DMV or something, but lots and lots of dead animals.
The documentary is relatively brief, and will stir the heart of any animal lover, even if it doesn't quite find a compelling narrative beyond its headline. My only caveat might be that given the scores of human lives so badly damaged by Katrina (documented, for instance, by Spike Lee in When the Levees Broke), I'd imagine that the finite resources available should be devoted to rebuilding the lives of people before those of their pets. Easy for me to say, I know, from a safe distance, and I'll readily admit that were a similar catastrophe to strike my part of the country, I'd make sure that we safely evacuated with every member of the family, including our new puppy.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The contrast level is high throughout; it looks like the documentary was shot on high-end video, and transferred without much attention to detail.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: A fair amount of the dialogue is muffled, likely from the vagaries of location shooting.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues
Extras Review: Only chapter stops.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA heartbreaking look at the neglect and abuse suffered by too many animals in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, made that much more wrenching because so much of this was so obviously avoidable.
Jon Danziger 2007-04-30