City of Gold (1957 film)

City of Gold is a 1957 Canadian documentary film by Colin Low and Wolf Koenig, chronicling Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. The film is narrated by Pierre Berton and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

City of Gold
Directed by
Produced byTom Daly
Written byRoman Kroitor
Narrated byPierre Berton
Music byEldon Rathburn
  • Colin Low
  • Wolf Koenig
Edited byTom Daly
Distributed byNational Film Board of Canada
Release date
  • 1957 (1957)
Running time
21 min 40 sec


City of Gold made innovative use of archival photos, combining narration, music and camera movements to bring drama to these still images. Its innovative use of still photography in this manner has been cited by Ken Burns as an inspiration for the so-called Ken Burns effect.[2][3][4]

The film grew out of an earlier 1952 idea to promote tourism and sport in Yukon. In researching the film, Low and Koenig found some still photos in an Ottawa archive and tried to improve the panning method Low had employed on his 1955 visual arts documentary, Jolifou Inn. Low then discovered a much larger set of archival images of the Yukon Gold Rush, from photographer Eric A. Hegg's collection at the University of Washington in Seattle. The problem of how to animate the images via camera movement prior to the invention of computer-assisted animation cameras was resolved by Kroitor, who enlisted British mathematician Brian Salt to devise mathematical tables, and developed a device dubbed the 'Kroitorer' that allowed one to take single photos of the archival images as if photographing real-life scenes with a hand-held camera.[1]


The film won the Palme d'or for best short film at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival, was named film of the year at the 10th Canadian Film Awards,[5] and was nominated for an Academy Award.[6]


  1. ^ a b Evans, Gary (1991). In the national interest : a chronicle of the National Film Board of Canada from 1949 to 1989 (Repr. ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 75. ISBN 0802068332. Retrieved 16 August 2016. In the National Interest City of Gold.
  2. ^ "Capturing the American Experience: A Conversation with Ken Burns" by Mikel Vause
  3. ^ ""Historical Photographs and Multimedia Storytelling" by Charles Williams". Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
  4. ^ "All That Glitters: City of Gold Revisited" by John C. Tibbetts
  5. ^ "City of Gold Top Canadian Film". The Globe and Mail. June 21, 1958.
  6. ^ Colin Low article at the Film Reference Library Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

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