7 December 2004 | film-critic
No CGI is needed to see the imagination and brilliance behind this visionary...
To fully appreciate this film, you must consider two things. First, this is a MOCumentary. It is not a real story, but instead something created through the imagination of a very rich storyteller. Second, this film was released to the general New Zealand public without them knowing that this was a mocumentary and they completely felt that it was a real occurrence. They took the bait
hook, line, and sinker. It reminded me of the fear that Orson Welles was able to conjure when he did 'The War of the Worlds' broadcast in 1938. Welles was able to create a mythological occurrence that was packaged so well that audiences bought it. This is the same with Peter Jackson's creation, Forgotten Silver. Jackson's attention to detail and excitement behind this project is seen with every digitized photo, every sound bite, and every word of the story.
The great idea behind mocumentaries is that you have the opportunity to create a world from the ground up. I think this was an aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed about this picture was every creative angle that Jackson took with his characters. They were flawed, but in a good way. They were real, yet in a sense very cartoonish. They gave you this dream about life that is normally missing in most films, yet these guys were never alive for you to believe in. It was funny how deeply rooted you could become with this film until you had to pull yourself away and say that it was just a work of fiction. For anyone to say that about a film means that the filmmaker is doing a spectacular job. The only director that I can think of that closely able to pull this off today is Christopher Guest, but even in his work you can tell that it is a mocumentary from the beginning. Jackson never gives you the opportunity to find the truth. Everything he hands to you has been researched and tested giving us the chance to believe in our man Colin throughout all of it.
Perhaps what I am trying to say here is that Jackson doesn't just create a story, he creates a world filled with emotion and chaos. It is easy to create a story, books are released everyday, but to put visuals with this story AND build a main character that the average Joe can relate to is much harder. While only pushing 60 minutes, Jackson had quite a bit of work on his hands. This was not an easy project. Jackson not only had to play director, but also put himself into the film that I think only helped build the mirage of truth. You kept forgetting that he created this story, yet was in it himself. It honestly takes away that feeling of cinematic rubbish that Hollywood releases daily and builds a true story.
The interventions between Harvey Weinstein, Sam Neill, and Leonard Maltin only help build more of that 'truth' to the film. You hear these men from the industry talk about this fictitious man named Colin McKenzie, you begin to believe that perhaps he was alive and Jackson is just trying to tell the truth.
While I have spoken heavily about the amazing fake factoids that Jackson disperses through the film, what I found funny was the type of humor that Jackson placed intermittently throughout the film. The idea of Stan the Man is brilliant and his 'Rodney King' moment proved that it is always possible for history to repeat itself. The jail time that Colin faced due to his 'smut' film had me rolling in my seat. The exuberant size of the extras needed for this film kept me smiling throughout. There was just something about this humor that made me excited about my educational background.
Finally, I would like to say that the fact that the New Zealand public never realized that it was a mocumentary should already prove the worthiness of this film. I do not see why it didn't receive more press than it did, but this has been the biggest film enjoyment of the week. I remember a line from a film that went something like this, 'The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist'. Think of this line as you witness Jackson's film Forgotten Silver. It will make you curious.
Overall, I thought that this film was beautiful. Midway through this film you will loose track of reality and think that you are watching a true documentary, and that is when you can realize that you have a master director giving you a perfect 'gem'. This was not a film filled with violence and annoying Gollems, but instead cunning wit and satire. Jackson continually proves that he can handle so much more than just The Lord of the Rings with this film. No CGI is needed to see the imagination and brilliance behind this visionary. For those of you that are huge Lord of the Rings fans, you may not enjoy it as much, but for me this was Jackson in his truest form.
Grade: ***** out of *****