Lost Conquest

Rated: Not Rated

        It’s no secret by now that I love documentaries. At this point I find that the subject doesn’t matter much, as long as the film is interesting and done well. I’m not sure why, but I’m much more willing to watch a documentary about a subject I don’t, or haven’t had much interest in than I am to watch a fictional film who’s plot line I have little interest in. Perhaps it’s because with a documentary, as opposed to a fictional film, I’ll at least learn something. That something may not be anything that I’ll ever use, but at least I come away with something after spending the time to watch it. With fictional films, if I’m not interested in the overall plot line, than I don’t feel invested in what happens to the characters, and I end up feeling that I’ve just wasted the time it took to watch whatever it is. That, in turn, makes me feel resentful because there’s no way I’ll ever get that time back. I’ve never felt that way after watching a documentary, even if said documentary was a bit on the slow and boring side.  And so, despite the fact that it’s a little harder to review documentaries, I tend to gravitate toward them in my everlasting pursuit of knowledge.
Lost Conquest is a documentary whose subject matter is so intriguing I knew I couldn’t miss it. On its surface it’s is about how the people of Minnesota, particularly those in the small town of Kensington, believe that in 1362 Leif Ericson invaded Minnesota and claimed it for King Olaf of Norway. Just below the surface of this delightful film is a look into why we believe the things we believe. How’s that for intriguing?!?
        According to filmmaker Mike Scholtz, “I think that most of us hold beliefs on fairly flimsy evidence. For some people it’s historical. For others it’s political. For a lot of people it’s religious. I think it’s fascinating to explore why people believe the things they believe, even more so than what they believe.” This film is Scholtz’s way of exploring how the Vikings in Minnesota myth began and why so many of the people there still believe it. Scholtz himself believed in the myth until reaching college. He said “[My mother] and I have been arguing about the veracity of [these myths] for decades. She taught me that the Vikings conquered Minnesota in 1362, and incredibly most of my grade school teachers corroborated her story! It wasn’t until I went to college that I discovered nearly everyone in the scientific community believe [the myths and artifacts] are a hoax!”
        What Mike Scholtz has managed to pull off with
Lost Conquest is nothing short of pure brilliance. He’s managed to cloak the more serious ideas in the film behind a veil of comedic perfection that had me laughing so hard I cried. And yet, despite the comedic nature of it all, Scholtz was sure to give everyone who participated in the film dignity and respect, no matter what they believed. I think that’s a great feat, given that it would be easy to make fun of some of these people. According to Scholtz, “While my films are often funny, I don’t like to make fun of people in them. I genuinely grow to love the people I feature in my films and I can’t imagine treating them unfairly.”
Lost conquest is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. It has the overall feel of the best spoof comedies, while sneakily adding in much deeper material and teaching you something at the same time. I wish there were more documentaries out there like that, because if there were, I think far more people would watch them. I have yet to see Scholtz’s other two films, Wild Bill’s Run and Wicker Kittens, but if Lost Conquest is any indication, I’d better add them to my list!

Lost Conquest is not rated and was written and directed by Mike Scholtz. It is currently making the film festival rounds. While there are no distribution plans at the moment, I’ll be sure to let you know when and if that changes.