Title: The Search for Michael Rockefeller

Also known as:

Year: 2011

Genre: Documentary

Language: English

Runtime: 90 min

Director: Fraser Clarke Heston, Milt Machlin

Writer: Fraser Clarke Heston (script), Milt Machlin (book)

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1701226/

In 1969, adventurer Milt Machlin headed to New Guinea in search of Michael Rockefeller in hopes of finding the man himself or at least finding some answers. In 2007, Fraser C. Heston uncovered a collection of unreleased film that Machlin captured on his expedition that included interviews from various people as well as footage of local tribes. With this and Machlin’s personal notes, Heston pieces together the last great attempt to find the missing aristocrat with amazing footage that’s never been seen before.

Our thoughts:
It’s hard to imagine that a new documentary about the mystery of Michael Rockefeller’s disappearance would be of interest to anyone. If only, because it’s an unsolved case that captured the interest of so many people since the ‘60s that every aspect of his disappearance has been explored extensively. It’s an incident that will always have more questions than answers, and because of that, you can’t help but wonder what could a new documentary bring to the table. What information could it possibly have that we all haven’t heard before?

The short answer is nothing. There isn’t any new information or answers in Heston’s movie, “The Search for Michael Rockefeller”, BUT what it does offer is some incredible footage from Milt Machlin — an adventurer and author who travelled to New Guinea in 1969 in search of Rockefeller — that’s never been seen before (as far as my knowledge is concerned). With an astounding collection of 16mm footage, interviews, audio recordings, photographs, and journal entries, Heston pieces together Machlin’s extensive research into the case and runs it in conjunction with the numerous theories as to what actually happened to Michael Rockefeller.

As I said, there’s not any new information to glean from Heston’s film so those who are fanatics about the case might find themselves a little bored with the narrative. For someone like me, who knows very few details about the incident, “The Search for Michael Rockefeller” was genuinely fascinating. Heston and Machlin explore the numerous theories as to what could have happened: drowned, eaten by sharks, taken by a local tribe, eaten by cannibals, etc. And examines each as to why or why not these scenarios might be possible. With the extensive collection of footage, as well as delving into the socio-political aspects of the New Guinea region at the time, there’s a respectable amount of depth that the subject is given.

However, as always, we are only left with questions and speculations when it comes to Michael Rockefeller. And if “The Search for Michael Rockefeller” accomplishes anything, it’s raising even more questions as an interesting piece of footage is shown at the end — not shot by Machlin — that adds more mystery to the already legendary case. Is it real, something orchestrated, or something else entirely? Who knows. Then, I guess that’s what continues to drive everyone’s fascination with the disappearance of this one individual. No one knows. While “The Search for Michael Rockefeller” may not give use any answers, it’s a documentary worth checking out for Machlin’s material alone.

Note: As per usual, we don't include ratings for these kind of documentaries.

Positive things:
- Some of the footage captured by Milt Machlin is incredible to watch.
- As someone who's not overtly familiar with the details of the case, I thought the film does a good job of covering the subject with a reasonable amount of depth.

Negative things:
- It could be a tedious viewing since there’s no real new information regarding the case.
- Repeating images. Such as a pulp comic drawing of a man washed up on a beach everytime it's mentioned that Rockefeller swam to shore.


We got this movie from:
Strand Releasing

It can be bought from:

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