Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lorber

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MattBarry

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Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lorber

PostMon May 22, 2017 10:20 am

I thought this would be of interest to folks here at Nitrateville:

Kino Lorber is releasing a new documentary by Bill Morrison, DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME, which tells the remarkable story of the discovery of a cache of nitrate film prints in the Canadian Gold Rush mining town of Dawson City in 1978. The documentary was an Official Selection of the New York Film Festival and the TCM Classic Film Festival, and contains clips from numerous films found in the Dawson City collection.

The film opens theatrically on June 9 at the IFC Center in New York, June 16 at Nuart Theatre in LA, and July 21 at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto.

This meditation on cinema’s past from Decasia director Bill Morrison pieces together the bizarre true history of a long-lost collection of 533 nitrate film prints from the early 1900s. Located just south of the Arctic Circle, Dawson City was settled in 1896 and became the center of the Canadian Gold Rush that brought 100,000 prospectors to the area. It was also the final stop for a distribution chain that sent prints and newsreels to the Yukon. The films were seldom, if ever, returned.

The now-famous Dawson City Collection was uncovered in 1978 when a bulldozer working its way through a parking lot dug up a horde of film cans. Morrison draws on these permafrost-protected, rare silent films and newsreels, pairing them with archival footage, interviews, historical photographs, and an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator and composer Alex Somers. DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME depicts the unique history of this Canadian Gold Rush town by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation.

Here is some of the press it has received so far:
"Wondrous, almost indescribable. A complete astonishment from beginning to end." —Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"A bona fide adventure through history, hopscotching across the turn of the 19th century." —Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment

"Pays bittersweet tribute to the faith that movies can uphold." —A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"A celebration of preservation and the rediscovery of images long presumed lost.” —Ben Nicholson, MUBI

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cowhandpete

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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed May 24, 2017 9:32 am

Wonderful. Looking forward to this. Will catch it at the Bloor here in Toronto and then drop the appropriate $$ to add it to our collection.

S
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed May 24, 2017 5:38 pm

I saw it at the TCM Fest. It is a beautiful film and touching in how it resurrects the history of the town and its people. I wasn't too impressed with the music however. It was look a dentist's drill that never stopped.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed Jun 14, 2017 6:39 am

The film is broadcast on Arte TV on Tuesday 20th June at 1.25 am. You'll be able to watch it online after broadcast for 7 days here: http://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/054794-000-A/dawson-city-le-temps-suspendu
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed Jun 14, 2017 8:17 am

I just interviewed Bill Morrison for NitrateVille Radio after watching a screener. I recommend seeing it in the theater if you can because it's the kind of thing you need to just disappear into; it's an intense immersion into the life of a tiny town (albeit one that an awful lot of future-famous people passed through) and one that makes highly evocative use of beautifully clear photos from the period as well as film clips.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Ann Harding

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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed Jun 14, 2017 8:33 am

Personally I'm glad it's broadcast on Arte as it's unlikely to ever reach a cinema over here. BTW the film was co-produced by Arte, hence the screening.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostFri Jun 16, 2017 9:38 pm

The film can be confusing and misleading, because he uses clips from the discovered silent films as he discusses the evolution of the area. Early on when he talks about Dawson city, unerneath is a clip of Douglas Fairbanks as the Half Breed (1916) which was shot in California.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSat Jun 17, 2017 11:39 am

Anybody know if the DVD is captioned?

Dawson is my favourite city in the world. Well, town, actually, since it's so small it can't compete with major cities. If you're anything of a history buff, go and visit it.

I assure you, it is not a faked-up tourist trap like Skagway (which is a loathsome imposter of a Gold Rush town). It is the real thing. And in true 21st-century fashion, it has become a culinary shining star, full of wonderful tiny restaurants. Foodies will love it as much as history buffs.

Jim
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSat Jun 17, 2017 1:31 pm

There isn't a DVD yet, so I don't know—it's playing theatrically right now. That said, the dialogue portions are pretty slight-- some interview stuff at the beginning and end. For something like 95% of the running time, it is basically a silent film, with captions indicating either what it's showing, or the source of a clip. The trailer is an accurate depiction of what the film is like.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Jun 18, 2017 12:47 pm

I recall that locally in Nova Scotia, the find was of importance because there was previously lost newsreel footage of Alexander Graham Bell's aircraft the Silver Dart flying over the frozen Bras d'Or Lake in Cape Breton, near Bell's home in Baddeck. Not sure if that makes it into the feature or not.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Jun 18, 2017 12:51 pm

missdupont wrote:I wasn't too impressed with the music however. It was look a dentist's drill that never stopped.

I had my parrot Cory on my shoulder while I watched the link to the Arte site. He wasn't too impressed with the music either. I had to mute the sound to make him calm down.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 6:27 am

I watched the film this morning and found it extremely interesting in terms of history of the Gold Rush, Yukon and Dawson City. It's amusing to note that Sid Grauman, William Desmond Taylor and Pantage all started thir careers in Dawson City. But I found the storytelling rather bizarre: all the informations were conveyed via texts on screen rather than a narrator. I think it would have been far more exciting with a voice over by a good actor and would have given the film a pacing it lacks, especially with that boring repetitive score we get from start to finish. However, if you are interested in silent films, you'll get a lot of clips of rare 10s silents. I even spotted a newsreel of the Solax laboratory fire from December 1919 at the time when Capellani was using the studio for Albert Capellani Productions, Inc. (The film mentions only Alice Guy-Blaché who wasn't working there any more at the time.) I had a good laugh when I learned that the Trump fortune started with a whorehouse in Dawson City around 1900. So this is where the money came from originally! :lol:
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed Jun 21, 2017 2:32 am

Thanks Arte - only way I would ever see this

Oh the awful music, suitable for a morgue.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostMon Jun 26, 2017 5:14 pm

I caught this yesterday at the IFC Center in New York, where it’s down to two shows a day. A lovely film, although about 30 minutes too long.

I’m curious. The lost and found treasure story is compelling, and is what drives the film, but in the end, how valuable really was the film footage that was found?
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostTue Sep 12, 2017 8:50 am

I wanted to let everyone know that DAWSON CITY will be coming to Blu-ray and DVD from Kino on October 31st.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSat Sep 16, 2017 6:27 pm

I viewed the film 2x in Rome,NY around the Capitolfest film festival in August. I thought it was fantastic. My husband wants the DVD to see the only film of the 1919 World Series. And yes, I have been making jokes ever since about the genisis if the Trump fortune being from a (at the time & place , legal) brothel owned by the President's grandfather. The never shows up in the official family biography.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostThu Sep 21, 2017 6:08 pm

I saw it last Saturday night in Portland. Really enjoyed it. Some of the titles with lots of words went a little fast, but I'll get the DVD when it comes out and will pause it to read. Other than that it was amazing!
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostThu Sep 21, 2017 7:53 pm

barry byrne wrote:Oh the awful music, suitable for a morgue.


I thought the music was terrific!
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Re: "Dawson City: Frozen Time"

PostSat Sep 23, 2017 3:26 am

I saw it at Capitolfest in Rome, NY in August and enjoyed it very much, more so than some of my friends who also saw it there.
One thought I had about it: At about two hours in length the film appears to be trying to cover everything that ever happened in and around Dawson City, every bit of history on the gold rush, etc. It seems to get away from the subject of the film discovery for long periods of time, covering other stuff. I thought they could have produced two versions: the two-hour version for history buffs, and a one-hour version that covers the film discovery, for film buffs.

Still, I do highly recommend it.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostMon Sep 25, 2017 11:13 am

I saw this screened at the Wexner Center in the summer. It is an immersive and comprehensive documentary about the finding of the films but also the history of Dawson City. It is fascinating and surprising just how many famous people have a connection to the city. It is also told mainly through title cards, much like the silent films that were found there.

The music can be polarizing. It was definitely done for effect, but it has an eerie, sparse quality that reminds me of Halloween sound effects. It gives the viewer a sense that these movies have literally come back to life after being declared dead, but for me, it was excessive. It would have been fine as a supplement to less dramatic choices, because I think sometimes you notice the music over what is being shown on the screen.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostThu Sep 28, 2017 3:25 pm

There's an excellent long form piece about Morrison's work and the film at the Chicago Reader:

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/b ... d=31401913
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostTue Oct 24, 2017 10:15 am

I haven't seen this film, but from the descriptions I think I can understand why the music is the way it is. If they scored the clips normally for a silent film, you would view them as a story of their own, and it would be irritating when the film cut them off and moved on. By wallpapering nondescript music over the top, it keeps everything as a part of the overall documentary and puts the context of the clips on the fact that they're clips, not stories of their own.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed Nov 01, 2017 2:09 pm

Here is the DVDBeaver review of DAWSON CITY, with hi-res screenshots:
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film6/blu-ray_ ... lu-ray.htm

"The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray with a high bitrate of Dawson City - Frozen Time looks amazing in 1080P. The static black and white, or sepia, photos have deep rich black levels and look so impressive. The 'found' films have varying degrees of damage - mostly on the edges. These incredible images - transferred to Blu-ray augment the fascinating stories of discovery and historical content. Stunnning!" (Gary Tooze, DVDBeaver)
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostWed Nov 01, 2017 2:13 pm

My copy arrived yesterday. I'll screen it this weekend.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostThu Nov 02, 2017 12:10 am

i decided to screen half of the doc tonight. its fantastic. if youre at all interested, dont hesitate. the music was sparse and backgrounded. ken Burns' Civil War is much more annoying.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 9:15 am

My wife and I watched it last night and were enthralled. Me especially -- when I was about four years old, I looked at the Yukon on a globe we had and said to myself, "That's the place for me." Sheer instinct, but it proved true. (I'm wearing my Yukon Brewing Company sweatshirt as I write this ... "Beer worth freezin' for!")

It makes sense that Morrison delivered the entire history of Dawson City, because the story of the found films continues to this day. Did anyone notice Kate Gates mentioned that only two-thirds of the buried films were extracted from the pool? There are still probably 500 reels in the permafrost underneath the building that was constructed there "recently" (35 years ago, I guess) to replace the recreation centre!

So I adored this documentary ... But, oh god, why did they use such a godawful font for the subtitles?!?!?! It is so small, I had to sit two feet in front of the TV to see them! And they moved so fast, even a quick reader like me couldn't catch all of them! In some cases the titles were literally less than one second on screen!

As an addendum, I worry for the future of Dawson. It is on a low-lying marshland at the confluence of two very large rivers and has been flooded many times. Now with global warming melting the icecap and the permafrost, future regular floodings are inevitable, and it sits so low in the soil that it will eventuallly be swamped off the earth, probably within the next 20 years. Heartbreaking.

Jim
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 11:23 am

I also watched this yesterday and was mesmerized by it. I actually felt it got better as it went along, and by the last 15 minutes or so I was hoping it would be longer. The music did not bother me, I found it rather hypnotic. I do agree with Jim that the font was awfully small, even on a pretty decent-sized monitor, and some of those titles came and went very quickly. This is a minor complaint, however. I strongly recommend this documentary to film lovers and history buffs.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 1:11 pm

The font reads clearly projected. That's probably what they designed this film for. Home video was probably an afterthought.
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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 2:37 pm

bigshot wrote:The font reads clearly projected. That's probably what they designed this film for. Home video was probably an afterthought.


Is home video an afterthought for any movie made these days? I doubt it.

BTW, I forgot to mention it is captioned -- thank you, Kino -- and the captioning consists mostly of noting the music is getting louder or softer, etc. Those of you who hate the music should turn off the audio, turn on the captions, and enjoy the music instead of listening to it.

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Re: Bill Morrison's "Dawson City: Frozen Time" from Kino Lor

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 11:39 pm

time to get a bigger TV!
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