The history of Dawson City, the gold rush town that had a historical treasure of forgotten silent films buried in permafrost for decades until 1978.


Bill Morrison


Bill Morrison
5 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Michael Gates Michael Gates ... Self
Kathy Jones-Gates Kathy Jones-Gates ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ... Self (archive footage)
Frank Barrett Frank Barrett ... Self (archive footage)
Alexander Berkman Alexander Berkman ... Self (archive footage)
Charles Chaplin ... Self as The Lone Prospector (archive footage)
Eddie Cicotte Eddie Cicotte ... Self (archive footage)
Pat Duncan Pat Duncan ... Self (archive footage)
Thomas A. Edison ... Self (archive footage)
Chick Gandil Chick Gandil ... Self (archive footage)
Chief Isaac of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Klondike Han Chief Isaac of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Klondike Han ... Self (archive footage)
Larry Kopf Larry Kopf ... Self (archive footage)
Sam Kula Sam Kula ... Self (archive footage)
Kenesaw M. Landis Kenesaw M. Landis ... Self (archive footage) (as Kenesaw Mountain Landis)
Auguste Lumière ... Self (archive footage)


Dawson City: Frozen Time, pieces together the bizarre true history of a collection of some 500 films dating from 1910s - 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory, in Dawson City, located about 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Using these permafrost protected, rare silent films and newsreels, archival footage, interviews and historical photographs to tell the story, and accompanied by an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator and composer Alex Somers (Captain Fantastic), Dawson City: Frozen Time depicts a unique history of a Canadian gold rush town by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation - and through that collection, how a First Nation hunting camp was transformed and displaced. Written by the Producers

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Did You Know?


Though a completely Canadian story, newsreel segments about the US were included showing crooked sports teams, racial bigotry and union wars, even corrupt politics in the form of New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker (I), a clip that was not found in Dawson City (it's a talkie) but had to be specially brought in. See more »


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User Reviews

Fascinating Documentary
20 September 2017 | by JSL26See all my reviews

This is a fascinating documentary that weaves together the story of the Klondike gold rush, the early history of silent cinema, the flammability of early celluloid film spools, and the mystery of the excavation of old reels in the site of a buried former swimming pool in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Dawson was the end of the line for hundreds of silent films that crossed North America. Once they were shown in the local theater, they just piled up in warehouses in Dawson. Most canisters were thrown in the river or burned in fires, but some got buried and miraculously preserved in an oxygen-free environment and were able to restored. Bill Morrison, who spent years painstakingly putting this film together made some key choices: he showed pieces of over 100 long-lost films, mostly without narration but with captions identifying each film and its year, along with a haunting soundtrack by musicians from the Icelandic band, Sigur Rós. The clips from the 1919 "Black Sox" World Series were especially interesting to me.

I had the opportunity to see the film at the National Gallery of Art, and Mr. Morrison was there to answer questions. He mentioned that in the cache that was unearthed there were pieces of over 500 films, although no full-length feature films. (Who knew there were that many silent films in circulation?) He said he chose to eschew narration, because, after all, these were silent films. Someone in the audience asked him if he had heard of a similar cache more recently found in New Zealand. He said he had, and explained that New Zealand was similar in that it was a terminus point in the globe for such movies as well. Thanks to Mr Morrison, and a little luck, this history has not been lost forever.

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Release Date:

6 September 2018 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Dawson City: Frozen Time See more »

Filming Locations:

Dawson, Yukon, Canada


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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