Forrest Fenn, an enigmatic man from Santa Fe New Mexico, apparently made a lot of money through selling Indian artifacts and art. He was a former fighter pilot who hustled his way into a lucrative business selling this art to the stars from his luxurious gallery. At times criticised for this, he was surrounded by long-held suspicions of his unethically gained wealth. Now in his 80s and having survived cancer, he announced in 2010 via a self-composed cryptic poem, that he had buried $3 million worth of treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains span 3,000 miles of western North America, including quite a few states. The poem began like this: “I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold”…
According to Fenn, 65,000 people have participated in the treasure hunt. He knows this because of his website where searchers can send him questions. He has also stated that people have been within 50ft of the treasure. Has he planted sensors, cameras or is he making the whole thing up? Who knows. His clues stop there and there is a lot of land to cover.
Director and cinematographer Tomas Leach has made an impressive documentary. Despite a continuing stream of accompanying music, it is the silence of the mountains and the soft sound of tramping feet on rocks as the adults play, that has the most effect. Leach is not afraid of pauses and silence. The people he included – Mike, David, Katya, Billy – share the effect of the pursuit on their lives and their stories – cancer, solitude, deception, and the pleasure of camping under a star-filled sky. The film slowly reveals the transformation experienced by every one of the people in this film. Some have discovered a simpler life and others a taste of adventure and a forgotten craziness, far away from an ordered home-life. Two months ago NBC reported that three people have now died due to the treasure-hunt, with the latest being a 31 year old who fell into a river in July 2017. “Linda Bilyeu, whose ex-husband Randy, 54, died on the same treasure hunt in January 2016, shared the police’s concerns. She called the hunt “ludicrous, out of control, dangerous” and said it “should be stopped.” More than a pursuit for money, very cleverly Fenn has led thousands of people to nature and fun. And that is the beauty of this film.
Go and have a look at www.tomasleach.com to see his other work. From the hilarious and insightful DELAY to a beautiful presentation of Nick Cave’s ‘The Lonely Giant’.
And a lovely piece on the Forrest Fenn.
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