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The Town That Was
The Town That Was
Actor: John Lokitis
Director: Chris Perkel;Georgie Roland
Genres: Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
NR     2009     1hr 11min

In 1962, a trash fire ignited a seam of anthracite coal beneath Centralia, Pennsylvania, a once-thriving mining town of over 3,000 people. By the mid-1980s, giant plumes of smoke and deadly carbon monoxide gases billowed f...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: John Lokitis
Director: Chris Perkel;Georgie Roland
Genres: Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
Studio: Cinevolve Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 05/19/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 11min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"So-So" at best ... an objective critique ...
R. Plazek | Cleveland, Ohio USA | 08/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"First the "pros" of this DVD ... excellent footage is included of the town (or lack thereof), the re-routed PA Route 61, the damage the fire continues to do, and the scenery around the area. Watching the elderly mayor of Centralia and one of the last remaining residents gives a good feel for how attached some people were to the town and why they still will not leave. The home movies from the 1960's that are briefly shown on the DVD add character and a real personality to the town that has a way of getting lost when you just read about the history of the town.

Now the "cons" of this DVD ... I have two complaints. First, the video is very shaky for extended periods of time. For a professionally recorded and edited DVD, the camera operator(s) really should have used a tripod! I found myself looking away from the screen a few times because of the shaky camerawork. The second complaint is that the story of Centralia is told through the eyes of one of the very few remaining residents. Nothing against him, mind you. He did a good job of explaining his family roots and what makes him stay on in a town that no longer has any ownership of property. However, to be honest about it -- I wanted to see more of a visual history of the town and the mine fire. The producer(s)/writer(s) spent too much camera time on one person. While his story is interesting and I am not knocking him, I would have enjoyed seeing a lot more fully-factual information in it.

Lastly, having read the book "The Day the Earth Caved In" as well as currently reading "Unseen Danger", the DVD missed a lot of key parts of the story: how did the fire truly begin? Who is Todd Domboski? (he is shown in the DVD without an explanation of who he is and how he directly relates to the panic of 1981) Also ... who supported the town being kept intact? Who was firebombed for supporting the town being relocated? How did the residents end up fighting with each other over staying in the town or leaving? What did the majority of the residents decide was best for the town? What public officials were involved in the total bungling of the fire suppression projects? Did the state and federal governments have an alternate motive for vacating the residents of the town?

All and all, the production of this DVD is not bad, but I would have liked to have seen a lot more history of the town and the fire, as well as more interviews with past and present residents. The remaining resident they interviewed should have been a chapter on the DVD but not the main focus. For $20.00+, I think the DVD should be marketed with a better description of what the disc actually has on it. It is honestly mostly about one remaining resident, as well as the elderly mayor and two former residents.

If you're looking for a full "history" of the town and the mine fire, this DVD is NOT the place to start your quest for knowledge. If you're familiar with the story already (as I was), then this DVD is worthy viewing. $20.00+ for it is a bit pricey. The DVD fails as a good history of the town and mine fire, but it does succeed in bringing people into the story of Centralia. It helps you understand better that people made up Centralia, not just buildings and historic information. I don't mean to knock or degrade this DVD, but 70 minutes of a small number of people and not a lot of history make $20.00 seem kind of steep for the DVD.

Thank you for reading this."
Truly amazing!
B. Cancel | 06/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have actually taken a trip up to Centralia a few months ago, to see basically a massive meadow with smoldering hillsides. Once you see this video, you get to see what WAS there, and how that strange place was once a massive and thriving town. It is truly amazing."
The last guy in town
Moongink | Thornhurst, PA United States | 06/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Recent local news says that the last resident finally moved out. This is an excellent account of a small town, lost to a man made disaster and the few loyal people who hung on until the very end. Covers Pennsylvania history, coal mining history. Answered all of the questions that came to my mind over the years since I first heard about it. Well done independent film."
I Was There
John Maloney | Layton, Utah | 10/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This book is as accurate as it can be. I lived in Centralia, it was my hometown, and David DeKok has done a true service to the town and it's residents by writing this book. It was hard to grow up there, but when I was there I was a kid and had no idea of the type of devastation that was in store for the town.
I loved this book, and would reccomed it to anyone who wants to see a modern day tale of govenment corruption."