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‘AILA’AU: Forest Eater is a short film that takes viewers on a journey through the infamous 2018 eruption of Kilauea’s lower east rift zone on the Big Island of Hawaii. The film uses select footage from Lance Page, Michael Lienau and G. Brad Lewis with a very special shot by Adrian Hein and blends together a rich visual feast. Featuring Sam Cossman in full lava suit at lava rivers edge, testing out C-THRU from Qwake Technologies.
As the visuals dazzle, the original music and sound design helmed by Stefan Scott Nelson and Kevin Dippold creates a dark dreamy melody that nicely accents the incredible, beautiful and bizarre wonder of nature. The otherworldly sound mix is accompanied by Stephanie Dosen’s powerful vocals blended with a handful of other choice musical contributions.
Rather than use a more literal documentary style of storytelling, the film keeps a visceral, sensory driven approach as in the style of Page’s previous two Kilauea films. This eruption became the focus of a third chapter of the Kilauea eruption trilogy by Page Films that began in 2014 and ended strong with an epic finale of a 35 year long Hawaiian eruption.
Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano had been erupting for 35 years straight, an eruption that began in the early 80’s before I was born. I grew up on the island but hadn’t really discovered Kilauea’s active eruptions until the ‘June 27th flow’ in 2014 as the lava was slowly threatening the town of Pahoa. In 2015, Page Films released Kilauea – The Fire Within, a short film celebrating the awe-inspiring eruptions of Pu’uO’o and Halema’uma’u. These experiences were life changing and led to a follow up film called Volcanic Tides featuring active lava at the volcano from 2016 – 2018. Just as the 2 year production of Volcanic Tides came to a close, Kilauea began a truly historic new chapter and what would end up being the finale of a decades long eruption.
April 30th, 2018, Pu’uO’o crater suddenly collapsed as the lava lake at Halemaumau began to drain. May 3rd, lava fountains began to burst from the ground in the middle of Leilani Estates located in the lower east rift zone (LERZ). This would mark the beginning of a 3 month long eruption which turned out to be the biggest in 200 years of Kilauea’s very active history. The lava was miles away from anywhere it has erupted in decades, in the middle of forested communities and lush green farmlands. 24 different fissures opened up, over 700 homes destroyed and thousands of people displaced. There were over 60,000 earthquakes recorded with 62 caldera collapse events. The 2018 LERZ eruption would eventually send more magma out of the earth than the entire 35 years of eruptions it followed.
‘Aila’au is believed to be the male god of fire who was defeated by Pele, the predominant fire goddess who resides within the summit of Kilauea. The eruption of 2018 was bigger and faster than previous eruptions and according to USGS, it supplied various types and ages of lava from deep within the LERZ (lower east rift zone). ‘Aila’au was believed to be gone, but many are referring to this eruption as his return, a dramatic display of power. It was the grand finale of Kilauea’s longest recorded eruption.