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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > 1964 World's Fair (Image DVD)

The 1964 World’s Fair (Documentary)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: D     Film: B+



Did you ever look back at old 8mm home made movies?  They do not necessary even have to be of your own family, but there is something fun about watching these.  However, there is also a feeling of loss or tragedy that goes along with the viewing.  You are watching history replay itself as it stays forever pressed onto that celluloid.  People that are either much older now or dead repeat the same steps that they once did tracing the marks they made in time.  For some reason watching this material is such an emotional experience and that is precisely the feeling you will get by watching The 1964 World’s Fair DVD. 


Who would have thought that something like this would be able to stir up some emotions, as well as some interesting thoughts, as it pokes some questions about our abilities in 1964 to progress?  It would seem that in the 1939 World’s Fair that attendees would see exhibits of a world that was not too far off into the future.  By the time the 1964 fair came along though most of the exhibits were old ideas and most of it seemed to be pure advertising for material that already existed.  Despite the fair being called a ‘failed fair’.  It would see 52 million people in its two year run between 1964 and 1965.


What this documentary tries to capture is the nostalgia in this pre-Vietnam United States, but as one gentlemen states in the piece, is that what this fair represented was not the 60’s, but rather the good times of the 1950’s.  It only managed to demonstrate the chaos though that was the 60’s.  Whatever the case, it is hard to draw a line between where one decade ends and the other begins.  The documentary also tries to figure out what went wrong with this fair, or why it seemed to not be that successful in terms of its products.  What it realizes is that the Fair became more of a place to just go and have fun at rather than try to learn anything.  It would be similar to a Science Center going from a place of intellectual stimulation to sheer fun.  The 1939 World’s Fair seemed to be able to handle both, but not the case in 1964.


Running 52 minutes in length the documentary seems to lose some of its muster and although it sets itself up quite right there are often moments of silence or elongated breaks.  Not only that, but the interviewees are quite few, which gives a rather biased opinion of the fair.  Although with these limitations the material is still fascinating and gives the viewer a little bit more to chew on than just a World’s Fair Belgian Waffle. 


Since most of this material is archival footage it looks quite poor, but is serviceable for this type of work.  There are recent interviews that look good in terms of the quality though.  The entire documentary is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio.  The audio is a very mono sounding Dolby Digital Stereo mix, which works, but needs turned up a few notches. 


Unfortunately there are no supplements on this disc from Image Entertainment.  Not only that, but the DVD is in a snapper case, which most people hate.  Given that this material is very archival it is highly recommended for any respectable Library or anyone who collects that type of material.  It is certainly worth a look for special interest fans and history buffs as well.  This is quite a surprising film that might take some viewers back to that era when Station Wagons were cool, the Beatles were coming to the U.S., Belgian Waffles were a buck, and families functioned as a tight-knit cluster going to the World’s Fair and set their cares aside, if only for a little while.



-   Nate Goss


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