The Culture Movies

Footage in documentary ‘Dawson City: Frozen Time’ is all fascinating

The poetic documentary directed by Bill Morrison that traces the history of the gold mining town from its earlier origins with First Nation peoples to the advent of the gold rush in 1896 up through roughly contemporary times.

One of the many reels of the Dawson City Collection recovered in 1978 in the film 'Dawson City: Frozen Time'.
Courtesy of Kathy Jones­ Gates/Kino Lorber
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Caption
( Unrated )
  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

In 1978, a long-buried stash of hundreds of silent movies and newsreels was discovered in Dawson City, Canada, deep in the Yukon Territory. From this mass of footage, much of it damaged and all of it fascinating, Bill Morrison has fashioned a poetic documentary that traces the history of the gold mining town from its earlier origins with First Nation peoples to the advent of the gold rush in 1896 up through roughly contemporary times.

[Editor's note: The original version of this review misstated the location of Dawson City.]

The rise and fall of Dawson City, intimately tied to the vagaries of climate and man’s greed, is heartbreakingly rendered. Grade: A- (This movie is not rated.)

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