Imagine a documentary about a little-known New Zealand filmmaker from the silent era. This is a man who invented the close-up and synchronized sound before anyone else…before his work was tragically forgotten. Imagine that his last work was an Biblical epic, its monstrous, life-size sets constructed deep in the New Zealand jungle.
Now imagine Peter Jackson decides to tell this man’s life.
Sounds amazing, right? A hidden gem, uncovered by Peter Jackson, who tracks through the jungle in search of an immense fantasy movie set. It’s almost too good to be true.
Because it is.
Forgotten Silver is a mockumentary by Peter Jackson himself, with cameos by Leonard Maltin, Sam Neill, and Harvey Weinstein (among others).
Its appeal lies greatly with how much you can appreciate the joke, and how much silent film footage you can take. It’s a masterful fake: all the silent film material really looks it. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie just for that aspect: imagining the creation of those fake film sequences.
And it’s wonderful to see Peter Jackson in full curator mode, talking excitedly to the camera about a passionate project. Now I know why he looks so comfortable in the Lord of the Rings behind-the-scenes videos; he brings to those the same grinning kid energy he has in Forgotten Silver.
The other people in the film echo Jackson’s intensity, which I suspect carried over into the film’s production. Everything about it feels absolutely real, from the acting in the silent movie footage to the artifacts to the celebrity interviews.
Forgotten Silver deserves to stand next to This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show as ideal examples of the mockumentary style.