In writing this column for 15 years, I’ve enjoyed a consistent partnership with the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS). My first IMAX movie was Encounter in the Third Dimension, starring Mistress of the Dark Elvira and Stuart Pankin. In this 45- minute 3D extravaganza, we learned about psychology, optic effects and illusion.
When The Polar Express screened 10 years ago, MODS experimented with mainstream Hollywood movies. Harry Potter, The Dark Knight and the PIXAR/ Disney movies were special events for the South Florida community. All these films did a fine job matching entertainment with education.
2014 features an emphasis on documentaries. Released last fall, Rocky Mountain Express is an open air historical epic about steam engines in Western Canada. This film also looks at the dangerous disparity between the railroad laborers and railroad management. Rocky Mountain Express may be one of the darkest movies ever set in the daytime.
Journey to the South Pacific is the latest sea-faring documentary to open and is narrated by double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. Blanchett describes a teenage boy’s visit to the Coral Triangle and the pristine environment of Indonesia’s coral reefs. Whereas Rocky Mountain Express is a landlocked historical documentary, Journey to the South Pacific is visual poetry and is the closest experience that one will have to scuba diving.
Flight of the Butterflies 3D has been on the big screen for over a year. This award-winning film is the perfect scientific documentary to view during the Lenten Season. Two stories are told. One story uncovers the mystery of the Monarch Butterfly, whose circular exodus begins in Mexico and detours in Canada. The second features Professor Fred Urquhart, who devoted 40 years to the flight of the Monarch Butterfly and how he incorporated “Citizen Scientists” to help increase knowledge about this life-affirming animal.
Goosebumps! The Science of Fear is an interactive exhibit that includes The Fear Challenge Course that lets the visitor learn about their own specific phobia. Presented with four fears (animals, electric shock, loud noises, falling), one learns their own vulnerability. Fear Lab reviews the interrelationship between fear and one’s health. This exhibit presents coping strategies for overcoming deeply imbedded phobias.
When the economy collapsed five years ago, museums and libraries were placed on the extinction list. The creative minds behind the MODS have made this institution as durable as the Monarch Butterfly, through reinvention and providing a good time for the patrons.