Photographer's 'dance' with Kilauea produces spectacular film

Published On: Apr 18 2014 05:30:00 PM HST
Hilo, Hawaii -

Mick Kalber has been documenting the ebb and flow of Kilauea Volcano for the past 30 years, and now his life's work is about to play on the big screen as a feature-length documentary.

Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's story.

"VolcanoScapes... Dancing with the Goddess" makes its debut at the historic Palace Theatre in Hilo at 7 p.m., with a repeat performance Tuesday evening. For Kalber, 50, the 105-minute film is the compilation of 30 years of work.

"I never intended to make the volcano my life, but it's become my life," said Kalber, who began documenting Kilauea in 1984, about a year after the volcano began its current eruption.

The Emmy-winning videographer admits to giving up on life as a news photographer after becoming burned out with the industry while living in Colorado. But after stepping foot on the Big Island, he was soon documenting the power and majesty of volcanic eruptions as a stringer for local news stations.

"I came out and saw Kilauea erupting and Mauna Loa erupting at the same time, and I just had to get some gear and start shooting," said Kalber.

Unlike other documentaries that focus on Kilauea's wrath on neighboring communities, Kalber tells the story of the volcano from the viewpoint of those who know it best.

"I was sick of the over-hyped television shows that portrayed Kilauea as extremely dangerous and scary, and made her out to be something she's not," said Kalber. "I wanted to do a program that showed the real Kilauea... the amazing spectacle that we who live here have come to know and love."

From a glass blower producing amazing art, to a scientist studying low-level sounds emanating from the volcano, Kalber seamlessly captures both the technical and spiritual aspects of Kilauea without the benefit of a narrator.

"It was very difficult to do that because you can make a simple transition if you're narrating, and to have somebody else say it is not so easy," explains Kalber. "I'm not a religious person, but I'm a spiritual person, (and) I did a lot of praying on this show. I asked for some help and I got it."

Throughout the movie, viewers are treated to mesmerizing hula and powerful stories about the volcano goddess Pele. At first, respected Kumu Hula Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani refused to take part in the film, but eventually changed her mind.

"I literally cried when she did that because she's the real deal," said Kalber. "She has given me a gift by raising the level of this show from good to great. I love what she did for me; I love her."

One could say that "VolcanoScapes... Dancing with the Goddess" reflects Kalber's own 30-year dance with the volcano. At times the relationship is like a tango that takes him to the edge of danger, but is soon followed by a slow, seductive waltz.

"There are many faces of Pele," says Kalber, "but you need more than just one slice of the pie to put something comprehensive together."

DVD and Blu-Ray copies of the film are available for $24.95 and $29.95 respectively. You can find out more about the film by going to Kalber's website:


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