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Dawson City: Frozen Time

HD   NR Closed Captioning

Bill Morrison

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About the Movie

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.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 46
  • Fresh: 46
  • Rotten: 0
  • Average Rating: 8.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: An instantaneously recognizable masterpiece. – Glenn Kenny, New York Times, Jun 8, 2017

Fresh: The true magic that "Dawson City" captures is, simply, the mystery of film itself: a medium that turned people into shadows that burned brighter than life. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety, Jun 28, 2017

Fresh: The thrilling documentary "Dawson City: Frozen Time" is indescribable not because it's ambiguous (it's totally straightforward) but because it does so many things so beautifully it is hard to know where to begin. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, Jun 15, 2017

Fresh: Documentarian Bill Morrison delivers a worthy follow-up to his classic 2002 film Decasia with another cinematic tone poem dedicated to the glories of silent cinema. – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter, Jun 5, 2017

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Brilliant and stunning storytelling

For film lovers and anyone who enjoys a great story, this documentary is a revelation. Using mainly found footage--lost films from the silent era--to tell the story of its own discovery. Morris weaves a remarkable tale of Hollywood's past, the great gold rush in Canada's Yukon Territory, and a host of colorful characters who incredibly cross paths in remote Dawson City before finding their true fortune and fame in other parts of the world, often tying back to Hollywood. It's a masterwork of visual poetry with an incredible soundtrack to match. Unlike any film I've ever seen, I was mesmerized. A real find for those looking for something unique and thoughtful. Don't take my word for it, it's got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Great subject, weak delivery

This is a great story told poorly. My main complaint is that the viewer has to read a vast majority of the information set to often irritating music. The first hour chronicles the history of Dawson and the Klondike Gold Rush. This is somewhat interesting background, but not worth half of the film. The movie is more like some sort of video-illustrated book. The film clips flash on the screen with title and date. The viewer has to sort out the significance. The only spoken words are at the beginning and end. I was so tired when it was over. This film lacks a lot of organization. I recommend frequent pauses to carefully read the narration, news clippings, letters, etc. This documentary rests firmly on the premise that interest in the discovered films is enough to carry a very poorly told story.

Ken Burns

Fascinating. Time travel back into time. Human nature.

Do not heed negative reviews from feeble small minds of todays Facebook babies who only can consume spoon food,pre
processed and refined media.

Think outside The Box.

The soundtrack is marvelous and takes the mind back into time.

This is Ken Burns level.

Dawson City: Frozen Time
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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2017

Customer Ratings