Open City Documentary Festival – THE LURE – Review ****


Many have read the stories of pirate treasure chests hidden away, accessible only to the lucky few who could read the X that marks the spot, in a old, falling apart map. Or the more recent tales of the men that would brave the wild wild west in search of undiscovered gold. The Lure is such a story, only the time is now, there are no pirates, and instead of a map we have a cryptic poem. Lost in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, director Tomas Leach went in search not of gold, but of the people that have their lives connected to it.

Eccentric millionaire Forrest Fenn decided, when diagnosed with cancer, to hid an actual treasure chest full of a considerable amount of gold coins and jewels (some say worth one billion, others three) somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. To find it, people would have to read his book, The Thrill of the Chase a Memoir, and decipher the cryptic poem at the end. So far, no one has found it – allegedly. Some say the treasure doesn’t actually exist, and is just an elaborate ploy from Fenn to be remembered after he’s dead. Others create their own legends around it, from finding the exact place empty, to believing Fenn is leading them on a wild goose chase, questioning their decryption as soon as they get near the solution. Still, many have dedicated themselves to the chase – from a retired policewoman and her friend, to an high flyer turned farmer, passing by a sick man and a lone wolf woman, amongst many, many others.


Executive produced by Errol Morris and Dan Levinson, The Lure is a calm, structured, beautifully composed documentary, punctuating the various storylines with breathtaking shots of the Rocky Mountains. Dreamy at points, abstaining from giving us just one side of the story, it leaves us with a excellent portrait of longing and desire – of Fenn of being immortal through his treasure, and of the treasure hunters of being the one that “cracks it”. Fenn, particularly, appears as the master puppeteer and storyteller – in his own words, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” – a man who lived a full life and is giving others, direct or indirectly, the chance to be the heroes of their own adventure. Even if the treasure is never found.


An eulogy to the “means are more important than the end” trope, The Lure charms, evoques and inspires, and probably wins a few more visitors to the savage and unforgiving landscape of the Rocky Mountains.

The Lure will be screened as part of the Open City Documentary Festival on 8th September – for more information please check

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.