A small-town Iowan collector cum hoarder, Michael Zahs, attempts to attract as much attention as he can to a treasure trove of American cinematic history in Saving Brinton — a documentary that chronicles his journey to share the contents of a box carelessly marked “Brinton Crap” found in a basement of a farmhouse in 1981.
When it comes to works that document a fanatic’s concern with details, that other people might have a harder time grasping (think Strad Style) this offering blends some awkward moments of rejection with moments of great reception from just the right audiences.
Tommy Haines and John Richard create a straightforward storytelling style makes this documentary one that delivers the facts with just a bit of wry humor.
The technology presented in Saving Brinton is fascinating. There are color projections and moving pieces that seem almost too advanced and complicated for the 1800’s that the Brintons were screening for sold out audiences across the American Heartland — that in many cases were a person or town’s first exposure to the moving picture.
But, unfortunately for Zahs, it seems people aren’t as interested in the minutiae of Victorian history as they used to be, unless they’re academics or film fanatics. The film literally depicts someone walking out on him as he’s explaining the painstaking detail of a Brinton production. Perhaps it’s a bit passe to be in love with the fruits of colonization that excluded other groups these days, even when they’re technological advancements. Maybe it’s just hard to capture an Iowan’s imagination.
I don’t get it. I’m certainly fascinated.
Zahs eventually makes some traction with the public once he screens the films at the oldest continually-operating cinema in the world — where they originally once did. That’s a long journey for films that almost made it to a dump if it weren’t for his intervention.