Carlton Cuse and John Ridley have stopped at nothing to recreate the scenes at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina, and Apple TV+ has given them all the resources they need to create a harrowing masterpiece in Five days at the Memorial. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast 17 years ago, but emotions returned within moments in the opening scenes of Five days at the Memorial. The news is at the forefront of the story – like the COVID-19 pandemic. How do doctors and nurses choose who receives care and who is rescued when supplies are limited? Showbiz Cheat Sheet spoke with director Carlton Cuse and actor Adepero Oduye ahead of the release of Five days at the Memorial for this review.
‘Five Days at Memorial’ Focuses on One Hospital But Gives a Bigger Picture
AppleTV+ Five days at the Memorial addresses the social and racial issues that America still faces today. Cuse and Ridley use footage from the time, then recreate precisely what happened at a hospital that claimed 45 lives in just five days. They tell the story and then leave it to the viewers to tackle the unresolved questions. How could something so catastrophic happen in one of the richest countries in the world?
Nothing was too much to show the heartache doctors, nurses and patients endured in the days after Katrina arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana. They built a four million gallon water reservoir to recreate a hurricane and flew a US Coast Guard helicopter across the Canadian border during a pandemic.
It all came together to make a cataclysmic point – the socio-economic problems plaguing this country have not changed in 17 years. Those who were hit hardest during Hurricane Katrina were hit again when the coronavirus hit the country. The cast and producers hope the series will encourage viewers to talk about any issues they bring to light. Adepero Oduye, who plays nurse manager Karen Wynn, hopes the conversations lead to solutions so that “we don’t repeat this again”.
“I am very proud that the story was treated with care and tenderness”, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star reflected on the 8-part miniseries. “I don’t think we tell people what they think about anything. We’re just showing you as best we can what that story was like for those people.
‘Five Days at Memorial’ shows the socio-economic and racial issues at the forefront of the devastated Gulf Coast
In Five days at the Memorial, the scene changes from the devastating scene in New Orleans to three men having lunch on a golf course. Viewers learn about the significance of Michael Arvin’s role later. However, the disparity between the gruesome scene at the hospital and the lavish lunch at the country club is enough to show the contrast.
The three upper-class white men discuss whether an event like Hurricane Katrina is “good for business.” Meanwhile, the mostly poor, black residents of New Orleans fight for their lives as their homes are destroyed.
At one point, the firefighters stood there for a whole day, waiting for instructions to come. They had supplies and were ready to begin rescue operations, but no order came.
Archival footage from New Orleans and surrounding areas shows the story of what happened outside the hospital. Local, state and federal rescue efforts have all failed.
Healthcare professionals were forced to make tough decisions during Hurricane Katrina
Within the walls of the hospital, Cherry Jones plays the director of nursing, Susan Mulderick. As head of the Disaster Emergency Committee, she quickly became the Incident Commander for Katrina, tasked with making impossible decisions about the 2,000 people inside the hospital when the hurricane hit. . Who is rescued first? Are they the sickest, most critical patients, or those who can walk quickly to the rescue boats?
The 20-foot storm surge breached levees around New Orleans, flooding 80% of the city. Water quickly flooded the basement of the hospital, shutting down generators, which created sweltering heat. There was no evacuation plan in place, and lifeboats and helicopters were very scarce. Susan had to choose who to send on the few boats and helicopters that arrived. Next, Vera Farmiga portrays Dr. Anna Pou, who wondered what to do with patients who were about to be left behind.
“We really wanted to look at this process without judgment and let the audience see what happened,” director Carlton Cuse told Showbiz. “And then the public could make up their own mind about the circumstances. But mostly I think we were trying to highlight how any medical professional is put in situations like this where health care has to be rationed, where you have to make decisions about who gets what or who gets rescued or who takes priority. These are terrible and impossible decisions that no one should have to make. And I hope that in the future, people will learn from experiences like this, and we won’t have situations like this again.
The first three episodes of Five days at the Memorial hit AppleTV+ on August 12, 2022. The remaining episodes drop every Friday after the premiere.