I have continually had the conversation that we live in a beautiful era for documentaries that push narratives and transcend what audiences previously believed a documentary could do. I am reinforced in this belief by a handful of films that I've seen, but another such film, Dinosaur 13, will now join those ranks.
Exposing us to a narrative that few people know, Dinosaur 13 is a roller coaster of a story in the best way possible. What starts as a humble yet passionate following of a group of paleontologists becomes a conflict that is bigger than they could ever expect. I don't want to give any part of the film away because there are so many twists and turns in this story. It is documentaries like this that make me question why even bother with writing stories when there are great ones like this that are more compelling than fiction. I will highlight a few things that I resonated with. First, this is a film about small town USA, in this case Hill City, SD (in close proximity to the Badlands), and the power of community in places like this, both in good times and bad times. Secondly, this is a film about passionate people. The subjects of the film, notably Peter Larson, the paleontologist who is the primary focus, but also the many other folks involved, all share a beautiful love of what they do. Despite all adversity, carrying passion and optimism is a beautiful thing to watch.
From a craft standpoint, the film is greatly benefited due to a high quantity of archival footage. Had these events transpired 20 years before, home videos would not have been commonplace and it would have to rely more on reenactments and interviews, but instead a good amount of the film actually uses footage, along with some reenactments and some fantastic interviews.
I am blown away by this story and look forward to watching it again in theaters. Paleontology is essentially the study of history and uncovering the truth in the past: Dinosaur 13 has done the same for this powerful story that should be heard by all. 10/10