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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
Most boring documentary for a fascinating subject matter ever made
Dull, ponderous, lugubrious, depressing - all perfectly describe the mood, tone and music for this film. How could anyone make a boring, nearly unwatchable documentary about such a fascinating treasure trove of early silent films dug up in the frozen tundra? I don't know, but congratulations to the producers - they succeded.
I guess the producers made the film "silent" as an homage to the lost-and-found silent films that form the subject matter of the film. If only the film had been truly "silent" - instead, it had a soundtrack - perhaps the most tedious, bone-numbingly, soul-crushingly ponderous and depressiong music soundtrack since the Virgin Suicides. But in the Virgin suicides, the depression music matched the subject and theme of the film.
Here, the Klondike miners were off on an adventure, digging for gold during the gay-nineties; the bands were playing upbeat fun-loving music like, "It'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight", "Oh dem Golden Slippers" and "A Bicycle Built for Two." But instead they gave us depressiong minor chord progressions that never go anywhere, with moans and dissonant wind-chime effects thrown in for good measure. Yeah, OK, the few disasters in the story might merit some emotionally appropriate music, but the rest of it might have been a bit more fun.
And as a silent film, without narration, all of the information was crammed into very small titles, briefly flashed on the screen for each clip, but always in a different place. So to know what was going on, you had to follow the moving titles around the screen to read them - which detracted from the ability to watch the clips they were showing. As a result, you had to pick your poison - know what the clips are, or watch the clips - you couldn't do both. And in may parts of the film, the clips come in such rapid succession, you can barely read the title before the clip disappears and then you're left wondering what it looked like.
All in all, a very poorly assembled film and barely watchable. It's worth it if you are interested in Klondike goldrush history or early film history, or rare moving pictures of everyday events and newsworthy events in the early 1900s. But it was presented in such a distasteful package that it was hard to watch.
The producers did use one interesting technique, using the found-footage to illustrate historical events that related to the town where they film was found. However, due to the poor subtitles (see above), it was sometimes difficult to be sure whether the scene was an actual documentary shot from the place or found footage of someplace else from 20 years later that was being used to illustrate someting from history.
Only watch this film if you want to see some interesting early moving pictures - but watch it on DVD or DVR so you cans pause and rewind to know what the heck is going on and where the clips are from.
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