If Mother Nature has a double-edged sword in her arsenal, it undoubtedly is the volcano.
At one turn, these lava-spewing maws are incomprehensibly destructive, capable of tearing chunks out of the earth and coating entire continents in blankets of ash. But even as volcanoes can take away from the planet, they give back in equal measure by building new land masses and infusing soil with an abundance of life-giving nutrients.
The Tennessee Aquarium Imax 3D Theater is hosting a launch party Thursday, June 27, for "Volcanoes 3D: Fires of Creation," which explores this history of volcanoes. Michael Dalton-Smith, the film's director and co-executive producer, will make a guest appearance at the event.
In this new Imax release, the giant-screen experts at SK Films have captured astounding footage that places viewers incredibly close to — and occasionally inside of — volcanoes all around the world, from the plains of Africa and the historic slopes of Pompeii to the depths of the ocean.
Viewers will see never-before-seen imagery of these colossal gateways to the underworld, including footage of the prolonged eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano in 2018. These scenes become even more impressive on the theater's six-story screen thanks to an Imax with Laser projection system and 12-channel audio system that re-creates the rumble of each eruption. The only thing missing is the sensation of blistering heat.
Audiences will be guided on this expedition by National Geographic photographer, filmmaker and adventurer Carsten Peter. A two-time World Press Photo prize-winner, the German explorer is no stranger to danger, but working on this film required some daredevilry. His involvement included visits to acid ponds in Ethiopia, rappelling into craters above fiery lakes of lava in the South Pacific and dodging masses of molten rock ejected during eruptions.
Director Dalton-Smith has 17 years of experience filming in some of the world's most remote and challenging locations. He says his film shows both sides of volcanoes, as one of the planet's most-deadly and most-creative forces.
"We often think of volcanoes as being destructive, but they also build and play a beneficial role on the planet," Dalton-Smith said in an interview with the California Science Center. "To witness one in action is both beautiful and awe-inspiring. Most importantly, I hope that the audience will come away with a better understanding of the forces that shaped the world we know today."
Dalton-Smith will be on hand before the film's 7 p.m. screening to meet with guests. Additional prescreening activities include the opportunity to wear a heat suit. Following the film, the director will take questions from the audience.
Students from Dade County High School will also be in the theater before the screening to display 3D-printed models of famous volcanoes from around the world.
Register for Thursday's premiere event at tnaqua.org/events-programs.
If you go
* What: "Volcanoes 3D: Fires of Creation"
* Where: Tennessee Aquarium Imax 3D Theater, 201 Chestnut St.
* When: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, premiere; 2 and 4 p.m. June 28-Sept. 5
* Admission: $11.95 adults, $9.95 children ages 3-12
* For more information: www.tnaqua.org