James Marsh’s masterful Wisconsin Death Trip is not like most documentaries. Based on the 1973 book of monochrome photographs by Michael Lesy, it focuses on a decade of bizarre events in and around Black River Falls, Wisconsin in the late 19th century.
There’s suicide ; teenage elopement, religious lunacy, errant eccentric opera singers, window smashing, children with guns, various murders and a recipe which starts with the words,” first, remove the eyeballs”…
It’s grisly all right, but also incredibly moving and beautiful, read like a newspaper over the kitchen table by way of narration by Ian Holm.
Above all, it remains a visually ravishing slice of gothic Americana, and a pertinent chronicle of hard times which is immensely humane.