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Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, History  |  9 March 2000 (Denmark)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,137 users   Metascore: 40/100
Reviews: 31 user | 23 critic | 6 from Metacritic.com

Wisconsin Death Trip is an intimate, shocking and sometimes hilarious account of the disasters that befell one small town in Wisconsin during the final decade of the 19th century. The film ... See full summary »

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Title: Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Jeffrey Golden ...
Editor (as Jeff Golden)
Jo Vukelich ...
Mary Sweeney
Marcus Monroe ...
Young Anderson
Marilyn White ...
Pauline L'Allemand
John Schneider ...
Asylum Clerk / Whispering Voice
John Baltes ...
Undertaker
Raeleen McMillion ...
Crying Woman
Krista Grambow ...
Mourning Woman
Clay Anton ...
Eloping Couple (male)
Bobbie Jo Westphal ...
Eloping Couple (female)
Scott Hulbert ...
Pouch
Zeke Dasho ...
Edgar L'Allemand
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kathryn Anderson ...
Mrs. Larson
Kevin Anderson ...
Larson Child
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Storyline

Wisconsin Death Trip is an intimate, shocking and sometimes hilarious account of the disasters that befell one small town in Wisconsin during the final decade of the 19th century. The film is inspired by Michael Lesy's book of the same name which was first published in 1973. Lesy discovered a striking archive of black and white photographs in the town of Black River Falls dating from the 1890s and married a selection of these images to extracts from the town's newspaper from the same decade. The effect was surprising and disturbing. The town of Black River Falls seems gripped by some peculiar malaise and the weekly news is dominated by bizarre tales of madness, eccentricity and violence amongst the local population. Suicide and murder are commonplace. People in the town are haunted by ghosts, possessed by devils and terrorized by teenage outlaws and arsonists. Like the book, the film is constructed entirely from authentic news reports from the Black River Falls' newspaper with ... Written by MAR

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Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

9 March 2000 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Kuoleman loukko  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Broadcast in the UK as part of the BBC's prestigious Arena (1975) series. See more »

Soundtracks

Oh, Never Sing to Me Again
Opus 4, no. 4
by Sergei Rachmaninoff
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User Reviews

 
See this film if you think the world is going to pot; you'll realize it's always been there.
20 January 2002 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

Although this is a documentary (taken from a book of the same title that was quite popular in the '70s), it doesn't feel like one. It doesn't feel like a movie either, so I don't know what you'd call it. But one thing I can say is that it is morbidly fascinating.

It is narrated by Ian Holmes, the only recognizable name associated with the film, reading news excerpts from a small, northern Wisconsin town's newspaper from the late 1800s. The occurrences are sometimes funny, often tragic, and unsettlingly bizarre. You have to remember that there was a very small population in the area at that time (the area is still not heavily populated), so the number of odd goings-on is curious. These occurrences have even more impact because they are juxtaposed with the very wholesome image that Wisconsin has always possessed (it seems whenever a movie wants to present wholesomeness, they set it in Wisconsin) as well as the beautiful vocabulary and syntax used in written documentation at that time. The documentary is also British, which ads another element to it--somehow I think they find it even more fascinating and that comes through in the presentation.

So, Ian Holmes reads the articles and we are shown photos from the period (sometimes they are the real people being discussed, but not always) and re-enactments of the crimes (they are mostly crimes), mishaps, or misfortunes. Infrequently, current-day footage is used, which I have read as a criticism, but which I think is misguided (see below).

The strongest thing I came away with from this documentary is that human nature is consistent, no matter what the era. The crimes and occurrences committed in and around this small Wisconsin town in the late 1800s are the same crimes that are being committed everywhere today. There are classic obsession crimes (i.e., a man asked a woman to marry him, she said no, he went to her house and shot her and then himself), classic sociopathic crimes, classic abuse cases, etc. I think the modern-day footage helps to bring this message home. But, there are also some

REALLY kooky things too, which are a blast. Look for the teacher who likes to travel by train. . . .

See this film if you think the world is going to pot; you'll realise its always been there.


10 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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