Review

Precious little payoff in laborious 'Earth's Golden Playground'

Dreaming of life as a gold prospector in the Yukon? Watch 'Earth's Golden Playground' first

More than a century after the great Yukon Gold Rush, miners still descending on Canada's Dawson City to stake their claims are the subjects of the painstakingly meticulous documentary "Earth's Golden Playground."

Despite that frolicsome-sounding title, the endeavor proves anything but a lark for the prospectors who are profiled, whether greenhorns or corporate players. They are drawn to the ancient quartz reef and its 4-million-year-old gold deposits.

Austrian filmmaker Andreas Horvath, who served as cameraman and editor and composed the film's overly dramatic, Wagnerian score, records every wind-swept activity with geological precision, but he dispenses with any sociological context regarding what continues to be a highly male-centric conceit.

It might also have been nice to have included some archival footage that would have illustrated how little the Yukon River setting has changed over the last century, but Horvath appears to have no interest in digging any deeper.

Instead, he patiently trains his camera on a few graying gold diggers raised on Jack London novels and adventure comics. They discover that panning for nuggets can be an awfully laborious process with precious little payoff.

That also describes "Earth's Golden Playground."

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"Earth's Golden Playground"

MPAA rating: None 

Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes.

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.

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