Forgotten Silver

Forgotten Silver
Forgotten Silver

Forgotten Silver poster
Directed by Peter Jackson
Costa Botes
Produced by Sue Rogers
Written by Peter Jackson
Costa Botes
Starring Peter Jackson
Costa Botes
Thomas Robins
Sam Neill
Harvey Weinstein
Editing by Michael J. Horton
Studio WingNut Films
Release date(s) New Zealand 28 October 1995
(TV premiere)
Running time 53 min.
Country New Zealand
Language English

Forgotten Silver (1995) is a New Zealand film mockumentary that purports to tell the story of a pioneering New Zealand filmmaker. It was written and directed by Peter Jackson and Costa Botes, both of whom appear in the film in their roles as makers of the documentary.



Forgotten Silver purports to tell the story of 'forgotten' New Zealand filmmaker Colin McKenzie, and the rediscovery of his lost films, which presenter Peter Jackson claims to have found in an old shed. McKenzie is presented as the first and greatest innovator of modern cinema, single-handedly inventing the tracking shot (by accident), the close-up (unintentionally), and both sound and color film years before their historically documented creation. The film also shows fragments of an epic Biblical film supposedly made by McKenzie in a giant set in the forests of New Zealand, and a 'computer enhancement' of a McKenzie film providing clear evidence that New Zealander Richard Pearse was the first man to invent a powered aircraft, several months prior to the Wright Brothers.

The film also shows a (staged) premiere screening of a recovered McKenzie film presented by film promoter Lindsay Shelton. It features deadpan commentary from actor/director Sam Neill and director and film archivist John O'Shea, as well as critical praise from international industry notables including film historian Leonard Maltin, and Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Films.

In reality, McKenzie is a fictional character, and the films featured in Forgotten Silver were all created by Peter Jackson, carefully mimicking the style of early cinema. The interviewees are all acting. Thomas Robins, the actor who portrays Colin MacKenzie, is today more easily recognized by audiences as Sméagol's ill-fated companion Déagol in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.



Costa Botes directed the 'documentary' portions while Peter Jackson created the 'archive footage' supposedly filmed by McKenzie. Jackson also shot fake interviews in Los Angeles, including the one with Weinstein.


The film was first aired on Television New Zealand's channel TV ONE in a time slot usually dedicated to plays and mini-series, but was billed and introduced as a serious documentary. A large proportion of the TV audience were fooled until the directors shortly afterwards revealed that it was a hoax. The airing proved extremely controversial.[1][2]

The film was subsequently screened at a number of film festivals. It was acclaimed, and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


  1. ^ "Observations on film art and Film Art". David Bordwell. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  2. ^ Hight, Craig. "Forgotten Silver". Mock-documentary: the subversion of factuality. Screen and Media Studies Department, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Retrieved 2007-03-27.  Derived from Roscoe, Jane; Craig Hight (2001). Faking It: Mock-documentary and the subversion of factuality. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-5641-1. 

External links

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