Forgotten Silver (1997)
Critic Consensus: This mockumentary about a non-existent New Zealand film pioneer and inventor features fake interviews and recreated archive footage that are so effective that many viewers were stunned to learn it wasn't real.
A film buff's dream, this New Zealand jewel of a film was produced with great love and careful attention to detail. It was in part, designed to celebrate 100 years of cinema and first appeared on New Zealand television where it generated controversy. It is the chronicle of forgotten international cinema pioneer Colin McKenzie, a N.Z. native born in 1888 and came about after his lost films were recently discovered in the garden shed of his elderly second wife Hannah McKenzie who lived next door to the parents of co-director Peter Jackson. Though in bad shape, enough of the films survived to inspire Jackson and co-writer/director Costa Botes (a noted film critic) to research McKenzie's life and contributions. They learn that McKenzie had a lifelong fascination with machines. At age 12, he developed an ingenious mechanized camera powered by first a bicycle and then a steam engine thus allowing him to create the first tracking shots. Next, the clever lad fashioned his own film stock out of eggs. Using the homemade film, McKenzie photographed the world's first flight thereby proving that the airplane was actually invented in New Zealand. By 1908, McKenzie made his first full-length feature film The Warrior Season, the very first sound film. Because the Chinese actors in the feature spoke their native language and McKenzie didn't think to invent subtitles, the movie flopped. He began making color film, using a rare native berry, in 1911. McKenzie also invented slapstick comedy. Salome was his magnum opus. Using a legion of actors and enormous full size sets, he unfortunately he ran out of funds before completion. Fortunately, the newly formed Soviet Union offered financial backing provided McKenzie made some minor changes. In 1936, he filmed the Spanish Civil War and the following year somehow filmed his own death. Jackson and Botes spiced up their documentary with interviews with such film celebrities as Leonard Maltin, Harvey Weinstein and Sam Neill. They also include actual footage from McKenzie's surviving films. Forgotten Silver generated so much controversy upon its first airing because the whole shebang is an amazingly elaborate, utterly poker-faced farce designed to parody the more serious entries in the international 100 Years of Cinema film series. Gullible viewers didn't pick up on that fact and disliked being deceived. … More
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as Colin McKenzie
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Critic Reviews for Forgotten Silver
The sly joke of Forgotten Silver really registers.
a funny mockumentary of a legend that never was
Audience Reviews for Forgotten Silver
Cleverly written and executed, but I was surprised at how unfunny it was. Not in the sense of *failed* humor, but of humor not being attempted at all. The funniest thing about the film is its overall premise -- chuckles during individual scenes were scarce for me. The steam-driven camera, the egg heist, the all-Chinese talkie, a character named Alexandra Nevsky, Harvey Weinstein's casual shrug at the end about cutting an hour from the fictional movie.... Not much else. The difference between "Forgotten Silver" and "This Is Spinal Tap" is that the latter would be just as funny, even if were true. I can't say the same for "Forgotten Silver." It's certainly worth seeing, however. Note: The film is about 52 minutes, not an *hour* and 52 minutes. The length stated above is wrong.
A rather funny mockumentary about Colin McKenzie, a man who (apparently) rivalled DW Griffiths, the Lumiere brothers, Edison, and George Melies in the early days of film. he supposedly invented the bicycle cam (and subsequently crashed it), made film emulsion from eggs (though it took a dozen to make one minute worth of film), and captured the first flight on celluloid nine months before the Wright Bros. ever flew! Of course, none of this really happened, but apparently some viewers thought that it did, and it got Jackson in a bit of hot water with the New Zealand Film Commission. This film's worth a look.
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