City of Gold (1957 film)

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City of Gold
Directed by
Produced by Tom Daly
Written by Roman Kroitor
Narrated by Pierre Berton
Music by Eldon Rathburn
  • Colin Low
  • Wolf Koenig
Edited by Tom Daly
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada
Release date
  • 1957 (1957)
Running time
21 min 40 sec
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $20,771[1]

City of Gold is a 1957 Canadian documentary film by Colin Low and Wolf Koenig, chronicling Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. The film is narrated by Pierre Berton and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.


City of Gold made innovative use of archival photos, combining narration, music and camera movements to bring drama to these still images. Its innovative use of still photography in this manner has been cited by Ken Burns as an inspiration for the so-called Ken Burns effect.[2][3][4]

The film grew out of an earlier 1952 idea to promote tourism and sport in Yukon. In researching the film, Low and Koenig found some still photos in an Ottawa archive and tried to improve the panning method Low had employed on his 1955 visual arts documentary, Jolifou Inn. Low then discovered a much larger set of archival images of the Yukon Gold Rush, from photographer Eric A. Hegg's collection at the University of Washington in Seattle. The problem of how to animate the images via camera movement prior to the invention of computer-assisted animation cameras was resolved by Kroitor, who enlisted British mathematician Brian Salt to devise mathematical tables, and developed a device dubbed the 'Kroitorer' that allowed one to take single photos of the archival images as if photographing real-life scenes with a hand-held camera.[1]


Winner of the Palme d'or for best short film at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award.[5]

Winner of the award for film of the year at the 10th Canadian Film Awards, June 21, 1958.[6]


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