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Forgotten Silver
     

Forgotten Silver

Director: Costa Botes

Cast: Peter Jackson, Thomas Robins, Leonard Maltin

 
Originally presented to an unsuspecting New Zealand public as the real deal, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's masterful mocumentary initially proved so convincing that unsuspecting viewers bought it hook, line, and sinker. A remarkably detailed look at the life of early filmmaker Colin McKenzie (Thomas Robins), the film traces the life of the young

Overview

Originally presented to an unsuspecting New Zealand public as the real deal, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's masterful mocumentary initially proved so convincing that unsuspecting viewers bought it hook, line, and sinker. A remarkably detailed look at the life of early filmmaker Colin McKenzie (Thomas Robins), the film traces the life of the young innovator as he makes incredible advances in the realm of cinema years before they are generally though to have occurred. From McKenzie's creation of the first "talkie" in 1908 (the first true sound feature is generally considered to be 1927's The Jazz Singer) to his creation of the first color film three short years later (which is generally considered to be 1922's The Toll of the Sea), the discovery of the remarkable advances made by him would forever change the face of film history. With Jackson himself providing commentary on the importance of the recent "discovery" of McKenzie's lost epic Salome -- which was preserved in a garden shed for nearly a century -- the significance of this "lost film" is further cemented by interviews with such notable film figures as Miramax's Harvey Weinstein and film critic Leonard Maltin. As McKenzie's rise and eventual downfall is documented through the use of newspaper articles, still images, and rare behind-the-scenes footage of Salome, the viewer is drawn into a remarkably staged ruse that is so effectively executed that it even includes interviews with McKenzie's "wife," Hannah (Beatrice Ashton).

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Colin McKenzie was a turn-of-the-century film prodigy who used egg whites to make his own film stock and a bicycle to power his camera, as he made the first-ever sound, color, and feature films. Those wondering why they've never heard of this filmmaker before should see Forgotten Silver, a delightfully dry mockumentary from directors Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) and Costa Botes. This marvelously low-key parody starts with the fictional McKenzie practically inventing the film medium, then follows him as he disappears into the jungle to shoot a sprawling silent biblical epic, Salome. Beginning with Jackson's discovery of McKenzie's long-lost oeuvre in a neighbor's shed, Forgotten Silver spins its faux biography in thoroughly convincing detail, including faded, scratched clips of McKenzie's films and talking head interviews with real-life members of the cinema community -- including Entertainment Tonight's Leonard Maltin and actor Sam Neill -- who are heard singing the praises of this "rediscovered" movie pioneer. But Forgotten Silver is not This Is Spinal Tap: the humor here is so subtle that it caused a bit of a scandal when it was first aired on New Zealand TV. Many viewers bought into the hoax hook, line, and sinker. The DVD of this exquisitely realized blend of fact and fiction includes directors' commentaries and interviews, plus deleted scenes and a documentary on the making of the film.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
When Forgotten Silver was first shown on New Zealand television, it sparked a minor scandal when some viewers discovered that the film's protagonist, pioneering Kiwi filmmaker Colin McKenzie, didn't really exist, leading some wags to denounce director Peter Jackson as the perpetrator of a fraud, which speaks volumes about just how well executed a satire Forgotten Silver is -- it's one of the most accomplished mock documentaries ever made, flawlessly re-creating "long lost" bits of silent cinema as well as offering a superbly deadpan spoof of television documentaries. While Peter Jackson's oddball humor provided a welcome subtext in horror films like Brain Dead and The Frighteners, here his sly wit is brought to the forefront, and if Forgotten Silver never clearly presents itself as a joke, in many ways that just makes it more potent as it bears the ring of possible truth. Jackson and co-director Costa Botes are also ably assisted by their crew (especially cameraman Alun Bollinger, who is asked to emulate nearly 80 years of cinematography technique and never misses a trick) and the cast (the actors in the silent segments capture the broad histrionics of D.W. Griffith-era filmmaking with commendable accuracy, and the contemporary interview subjects hit their marks just right). Forgotten Silver is crafted with so much attention to detail that it takes a fairly committed film buff to see through the surface and catch all the jokes, but anyone who loves movies will delight in it -- and if you take it at face value, it's still a fascinating story about a truly remarkable man.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/26/2004
UPC:
0013131243895
Original Release:
1996
Rating:
NR
Source:
Starz / Anchor Bay
Region Code:
1
Time:
0:55:00

Special Features

Widescreen presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs; Audio commentary with co-director Costa Botes; Behind the Bull: Forgotten Silver - a 21 minute documentary featuring interviews with directors Peter Jackson and Costa Botes; Deleted scenes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Thomas Robins Colin McKenzie
Peter Jackson Himself
Leonard Maltin Himself
Sam Neill Himself
Harvey Weinstein Himself
Peter Corrigan Stan the Man
John O'Shea Actor
Johnny Morris Actor
Costa Botes Himself
Jeffrey Thomas Narrator

Technical Credits
Costa Botes Director,Screenwriter
Peter Jackson Director,Screenwriter
Alun Bolinger Cinematographer
Eric De Beus Editor
David Donaldson Songwriter
Michael Horton Editor
Steve Roche Songwriter
Janet Roddick Songwriter
Sue Rogers Producer
Jamie Selkirk Executive Producer
Gerry Vasbenter Camera Operator

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Amazing Discovery (Main Titles) [3:47]
2. Humble Beginnings [3:47]
3. Legendary Inventor [4:27]
4. The Birth of Color [4:26]
5. Casualty of War [5:47]
6. Stan the Man [5:58]
7. Hollywood Heavyweight [7:02]
8. Redemption [3:19]
9. Lost Treasures [3:18]
10. Fatal Footage [1:15]
11. Salome [9:42]
12. End Credits [2:01]

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