A short 28-minute Imax documentary, ‘The Eruption of Mount St Helens!’ (yes, complete with exclamation mark) is an interesting if too brief live insight into the eruptions across the mountain.

The disasters faced

Ash, pyroclastic clouds and some local humour displayed on service signage.

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These famous stills tell a powerful visual story

The story

‘The Eruption of Mount St Helens!’ chronicles some of the volcanic activity that took place over a six month period of St Helens. Whilst still images are all that have been captured of the main eruption, footage of follow up eruptions are taken from a helicopter seemingly right next to it. These shots are intercut with local town and traffic footage. Here you can see layers of ash forming on roads and rooftops which look eerie and somewhat wintery.

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The helicopter footage is absolutely stunning

Why is it worth watching?

Being in Imax – a lot of the helicopter footage feels like it’s been fish-eyed into the frame. Once your eye adjusts though – the footage is fantastic. Some of the shots are genuinely wow-inducing and because the footage is not digitally produced it has a fuzzy vintage realism to it. The narration is a very 80s American – using a mix of drama and cheese. It adds to the ‘of its time’ charm of the documentary.

Favourite quote

‘The heart of the mountain was blasted into the sky!’

Three memorable moments

  • Seeing the cater post-eruption
  • The plumes of ash and debris from the helicopter
  • Seeing all the trees blown over like hair that’s been combed in one direction

The obligatory weird moment

The wry humour of locals is captured in the signs they put up to advertise the ash-laden hotel as being a cheap beach resort!

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This film has a lot of cuts to traffic in ash. You’d be forgiven for thinking its late December!

The drinking game

Is that traffic you see on your screen? Driving in ash? Good luck!


The main issue with this movie is that it is so short and prefers to be poetic rather than analytical or scientific. I’ve seen some TV shows that have gone into much better detail and so whilst ‘The Eruption of Mount St Helens!’ has a good 7 or 8 minutes of stunning volcanic footage – that doesn’t help much if you can’t build a movie out of it.

Rating: 2 / 5 Poor

Visit the film page for more info on cast, crew, artwork and screen gallery.

If you liked The Eruption of Mount St Helens then you may like…

  • St Helens – The movie on the guy who refused to leave his home on the mountain
  • Dante’s Peak – A volcano goes after Sarah Connor and James Bond
  • Pompeii – Hollywood historical blockbuster lacking character but full of effects

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I Love Disaster Movies is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, and would like to help me make better and more content then please consider supporting me via Patreon. Thank you.

*This review was updated 24/11/19 to adhere to the new ILDM review format.

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