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AMBITIOUS IN CONCEPT, ACHIEVEMENT RESTRICTED
on 19 November 2015
Happy-go-lucky mates Bill and Byron set off from New York to the Yukon in search of gold. Encountered en route are an avalanche, rapids and wolves, but the ultimate enemies prove men motivated by greed....
Visually stunning, this miniseries represents a brave effort - filmed on location, conditions as cold as they look. Less happy is the attempt to cram so much into six episodes of just over forty minutes. Several times there appears evidence of ruthless editing, the final episode especially seeming cobbled together. Some may also regret a tendency to moralize. Without voice-overs, the message is clear: there is far more of value to life than material possessions.
Acting is a strength: Richard Madden as Bill, intent upon justice; Ian Hart as a conman exploiting the vulnerable; Tim Roth's Mr. Big ruthlessly set on acquiring all; Sam Shepard's preacher, work cut out amidst such lawlessness.
Much is based on fact, the 1897 gold rush to prove short-lived, satisfaction brought to few.
A ten minute bonus tells how special effects were minimal - that mountain, for example, climbed for real.
Despite reservations, worth a look - mainly for its depiction of a community struggling to survive, each day dominated by hope discovery of gold will change everything.