Film Review: Garnet's Gold

Director: Ed Perkin


Garnet Frost almost died once. Lost and alone in the Scottish wilderness, Garnet had resigned himself to a somewhat beautifully-sad death in the Loch Arkaig. Of course, he didn’t die. Instead, this near-death experience sets him up for the biggest adventure of his life, and we get to go along for the soul searching ride.


Garnet’s Gold is a journey-based documentary.  A good one; I’d even say great. The primary narrative is adventurous, exciting and appeals to the child in all of us. Garnet is effectively going on a treasure hunt, and what’s even more impressive is that this hunt was prompted by a discovery he’d made while on death’s doorstep 20 years earlier; a mysterious wooden staff – believed to have been a marker for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s long lost treasure.


With an award winning team including two-time Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching For Sugar Man and Man on Wire) and Academy award nominated composer J. Ralph, the high standard of Garnet’s Gold makes perfect sense. Having already been nominated for ‘Best Documentary Feature Film’ at the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival, and ‘Best Documentary’ at the Tribeca Film Festival , you can only assume Garnet’s Gold will follow a similar success path to that of Searching For Sugar Man.


Director/cinematographer Ed Perkins deserves every praise in the books for this documentary. While the journey-based documentary narrative can often be predictable and tiring, Garnet’s Gold is enticing, fresh and beautiful in every respect. As a character driven documentary, Garnet Frost offers a fresh take on the ‘boy who never grew up’ character. So sincere in his fascination with the little (and somewhat absurd) things in life, he is torn, realising that he has done nothing of any value with his life. Void of any monetary or professional success, Frost lives with his family - his 90 year old mother. His self-depreciation is relatable and honest, which proves key to the success of Perkin’s ‘self-discovery’ sub-narrative. Instead of yawning as yet another baby boomer complains about not having lived the life they’d dreamed, Frost recognises that it’s now or never, and does what everybody wishes they were brave enough to do – leave their ‘normal’ life behind and go in search of treasure!


Beautifully shot and skilfully colour graded, Perkins film is aesthetically stunning and destroys any preconceived notions of the documentary genre as visually unappealing. Frames are intimate and allow for connections to be made with the characters onscreen. The tone of the film is generally a lonely one, but it’s a beautiful kind of lonely, and this is established right from the get go, seen in the first snow covered landscape shots. This tone is effortlessly carried throughout the whole film, largely aided by a soundtrack that works much in the same way as Perkins visuals, going above and beyond in creating a beautiful piece of art interested in taking viewers on a journey.


A poignant, fun documentary that will leave you appreciating the small things in life. I didn’t manage to take many notes during this film (a good sign), however the one thing I did scribble down was: “Wow. See this documentary!”


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