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‘Five Days at Memorial’ takes a grim look back at Hurricane Katrina’s tragic toll

A grim reminder of the catastrophic institutional failures associated with Hurricane Katrina, “Five Days at Memorial” captures the personal toll and terrible choices made under the most adverse of conditions. Working backward from the 45 dead bodies discovered in Memorial Hospital, it’s a compelling fact-based look at those five days as well as their aftermath.



the medical test presented itself as the staff began to realize the full scope of the implications of talking about not letting people suffer or die alone.

The producers expertly capture those moments, such as the doctors and nurses’ realization that the color of their armbands determined who would live or die, by using extensive real-life news footage of the storm. This is a prime example of the kinds of real-world phenomena that have been the focus of classic sociological experiments that seek to explain why seemingly normal people can act in extraordinary ways when faced with extreme pressure.

It’s not just that “Five Days” is a disaster movie stretched into a series; it’s that it poses the questions, “What would you do?” and “How far would you go?” in the face of adversity. It only took five days for everything to fall apart,” a doctor (played by Cornelius Smith Jr. on “Scandal”) muses to investigators later.

The cast also includes Robert Pine, Julie Ann Emery, Adepero Oduye, W. Earl Brown, and Jeffrey Nordling as well as Vera Farmiga as Dr. Anna Pou, a brilliant surgeon whose actions drew particular scrutiny after the rescue.

In the beginning, a technician foreshadows the impending danger by saying, “It’d take about four feet to put us out of business.”

Contrary to its title, “Five Days at Memorial” is not a feel-good tale, but rather a striking illustration of the fine line between principle and ruthless pragmatism, between fighting to save every life and considering people expendable.

On August 12th, Apple TV+ will debut “Five Days at Memorial.” Truth be told, my better half is employed by a subsidiary of Apple.

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