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Dawson City: Frozen Time is a 2016 American documentary film written, edited and directed by Bill Morrison[2] and produced by Morrison and Madeleine Molyneaux. [3] It was screened in the Orizzonti Competition section at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.[4] It concerns the history of Dawson City, Canada, deep in the Yukon, from its creation during the Klondike Gold Rush culminating in the 1978 discovery of 533 silent film reels, thought to be lost, that had been buried in 1929 in a former swimming pool or hockey rink.[5][6] Along with the lost films, there was also rare footage of other historic events, including the 1919 World Series.[7]

Dawson City: Frozen Time
Dawson City film poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byBill Morrison
Produced byBill Morrison
Madeleine Molyneaux
Written byBill Morrison
Music byAlex Somers
Edited byBill Morrison
Hypnotic Pictures
Picture Palace Pictures
Distributed byKino Lorber
Cineteca Bologna
Release date
  • September 5, 2016 (2016-09-05) (Venice)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$111,619[1]



The film recounts the 1978 discovery of a collection of some 500 silent-era films, now known as the Dawson City Film Find, buried beneath a swimming pool in the town at the center of the Klondike Gold Rush, and how the collection was shaped into a more expansive tale of the American/Canadian Experience by weaving silent films, newsreels, archival footage, interviews and historical photographs to tell the story, all from the point of view of writer-director Bill Morrison.

The film utilizes a number of silent film techniques, consistent with the subject matter. For example, the exposition is done without voice-over narration. Instead the information is printed on the screen with music or archival sound playing in the background, whenever appropriate.

Critical responseEdit

Dawson City: Frozen Time has received positive reviews from critics. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "If you love film, if you’re intoxicated by the way movies combine image and emotion, be prepared to swoon."[8] Glenn Kenny of The New York Times praised the film "as an instantaneously recognizable masterpiece."[9] Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100 percent of critics gave the film a positive review.[10]


  1. ^ "Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  2. ^ "Dawson City: Frozen Time". Picture Palace Pictures. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia - Orizzonti". Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Weschler, Lawrence (September 14, 2016). "The Discovery, and Remarkable Recovery, of the King Tut's Tomb of Silent-Era Cinema". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  6. ^ "Lost and Found no. 2 – Dawson City". The Bioscope. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "Footage of scandalous 1919 World Series saved by Yukon permafrost". CBC News. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  8. ^ Turan, Kenneth (June 15, 2017). "'Dawson City: Frozen Time' details the astonishing discovery of a treasure-trove of forgotten film". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Kenny, Glenn (June 8, 2017). "In 'Dawson City: Frozen Time,' Early Movies Lost and Found". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Dawson City: Frozen Time". Rotton Tomatoes. February 8, 2018.

External linksEdit