FORGOTTEN SILVER (1995) is an entertaining "mockumentary" from director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners, and the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy). If you've seen Rob Reiner's THIS IS SPINAL TAP, you have a sense of the style of FORGOTTEN SILVER -- except Jackson uses the early days of film as his subject matter instead of the early days of heavy metal. Spoofing Lumiere instead of Led Zeppelin, if you will.
The "documentary" concerns Colin MacKenzie, an early pioneer in filmmaking from New Zealand. While toiling in obscurity, Mackenzie was responsible for inventing many early cinematic firsts including the tracking shot, sound film, color footage, and other achievements. Later in his life, he attempts to create a biblical epic SALOME -- and the last half of the documentary focuses on his many failed attempts to complete his masterpiece.
There are several laugh-out-loud moments in FORGOTTEN SILVER, including the unique uses of bicycle parts in MacKenzie's early inventions and the way that his color footage became labeled "obscene". I find it amazing that anyone who watches this film could not understand that it's a joke, but apparently many viewers were fooled. Even though it remains serious and never gives away the joke overtly, the situations depicted are so preposterous that it's incredible that it managed to trick anyone -- people are more gullible than I give them credit for, I guess.
Interviews with real-life people such as Harvey Weinstein, Leonard Maltin, and actor Sam Neill are integrated into the program and add to the fun. The whole production is very well-constructed and has a wonderful attention to detail. Overall, I enjoyed this program very much; however, I'm not sure if it has much rewatch value. I would think that watching this film multiple times would become very tedious.