is gold in the Rockies. Forrest Fenn knows, because he put it there. Bestselling
novelist and narrative nonfiction writer Douglas Preston is the only living
soul besides Fenn who seen inside the eccentric millionaire’s hidden treasure
chest—so far—as far as we know. His description of the gold within it will not dissuade
the growing ranks of treasure hunters (yes, my house publishes Preston’s Wyman
Ford novels, why do you ask?). The hider and the seekers discuss the modern-day
treasure hunt in Tomas Leach’s The Lure (trailer here), which screens
during DOC NYC 2016.
surviving a cancer scare, Fenn apparently decided he needed to shake things up.
The prosperous (and sometimes controversial) art dealer hatched a plan to bury
a strong box full of loot somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe. He
assures us he embedded nine clues to its location in a poem. Whoever finds the treasure,
reportedly valued in the neighborhood of two to three million dollars, may keep
it, fair and square.
a flock of people have come to Santa Fe, in hopes of doing just that. Ever the
trickster, Fenn often engages with the “hunters” online, occasionally even
dropping even more cryptic clues. Clearly, he is enjoying all the drama and
intrigue. As for the hunters, they vary tremendously. The healthy ones seem to
enjoy the challenge as well as the time spent amid the splendor of the Rockies.
We even meet one hunter who seems to find her match through her new enthusiasm
for climbing and hiking. Others clearly become obsessed in the wrong way.
Fenn treasure mania is exactly the kind of subject that cries out for
documentary treatment, but Leach’s quiet, observational approach feels like a
mismatch. A weird story like this demands more attitude and irony. Nobody drops
any movie quotes, like “the stuff dreams are made of.” Instead, he shows us
plenty of treasure hunters hiking around in the mountains.
There is something very American about the Fenn
treasure and the man behind it. Leach’s previous documentary, In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter was an excellent film, but he probably is not the right
filmmaker to give The Lure the capery
vibe the hunters would appreciate. It is impossible to make Fenn boring, but
ultimately the film is too reserved for its own good. Recommended for those
looking for a Charles Kuralt-style examination of the Fenn treasure craze, The Lure screens tomorrow (11/13) and
Tuesday (11/15), as part of this year’s DOC NYC.
Labels: DOC NYC '16, Documentary, Fenn Treasure