Director James Marsh ("Burger & the King: The Cuisine of Elvis Presley") uses the archives of the source newspaper, read by Ian Holm, along with several period photographs taken by a Charles Van Schaik, as the primary frame of his macabre little film. He also uses produced segments to recreate certain events. The footage (often extraordinary with beautiful cinematography by Eigil Bryd and Frank DeMarch), though inappropriate for a traditional documentary, is very effective here. It's minimalist and unobtrusive, providing a sense of the moment without suggesting that it is the moment.
"Wisconsin Death Trip" is a stirring little documentary. Though its episodic recitation of the litany of death in a small town during an arbitrary period of time doesn't seem to be about anything (other than the morose spectacle itself), one might take it as a treatise on the unchanging human condition. Much of what the film documents could come from today's headlines. It's creepy, but proves that there is indeed nothing new under the sun. Narrated by Ian Holm. Starring Jo Vukelich, Jeffery Golden, Marilyn White, John Schneider, Marcus Monroe, Raeleen McMillion, Krista Grambow, John Baltes, Nathan Butchart and Zeke Dasho. Directed and written by James Marsh. Produced by Maureen A. Ryan A BBC/Cinema Reel Life release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 75 min.