Buy it, Its A Great Documentary
Gibson EB3 | USA | 08/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike others who gave this DVD a bad review I thought it was very well done, quite informative and entertaining. As a boy I visited the fair a few times and loved it . This DVD helped bring back all of the wonder I felt back then.
If someone tells you that they watched this DVD and didn't see the World's Fair and only heard people talking about it that could mean only one thing: they had their eyes shut. There are tons of scenes of the Fair here and I enjoyed every second of them. Yes, there is some home movie footage included but there is just as much, if not more, pro-shot footage as well. The visuals do not "meander" or "pad out", they provide visual context to Judd Hirsch's narration. There are many scenes of the inside of the pavilions, especially the Futurama, one of the best attractions of the Fair. If you want to see "rides" (I presume that means pavilions that carried you through them in some way) they're here: the Swiss Sky Ride, the U.S. Royal Ferris wheel, the AMF monorail, the Ford Pavilion, the Pepsi "It's A Small World" boat ride, the Futurama, the GE pavilion -and all are shown in the documentary. I suppose for some people the only acceptable scenario would be to show the contents of every pavilion from start to finish, even if it took nine hours. Remember, this was a documentary made for Public TV, they only had 52 minutes to tell the whole story of the Fair. Besides that, as far as I've been able find, and I've searched high and low for years, there is only one existing film that shows a "ride" from start to finish and that's a film that GM made of the Futurama and a lot of that film is shown in this documentary. Watch your own home movies because they're probably better made? No way.
Yes, there are interviews with frequent fairgoers, but they do not dominate the story, they add insight about what the Fair was really like. Apparently references to local landmarks made one reviewer think of this documentary as a "neighborhood home movie", which is absurd - these were personal recollections by people who happened to live near the fair and visited it often - who better than to give a first hand account of what it was like to be there and what the site was like after the fair was gone? No, you didn't have to grow up in Queens to enjoy this movie.
As for the music, it doesn't "meander" and it isn't "purposeless" either. Many of the films used in this presentation (I have seen most of them in their original forms) were silent or had their own narration attached to them, so the producers had to add their own background music under Mr. Hirsch and it was tastefully and skillfully done. That's what is done in documentaries: music is added to evoke atmosphere. It's not "purposeless". Show me one good documentary that doesn't use it. (You can't.) My only complaint with the music is the theme song over the opening titles and losing credits: it was supposed to sound like early 60's pop but it sounds too much like, and is just as annoying as, Dire Straits' "Walk of Life".
The only other criticism I have is the claim that the Belgian Waffle left the single most lasting impression on fairgoers. That is just plain ridiculous. What impressed me most was the futuristic architecture, the immense size of it all, and the way the fair looked after dark, all of which are wonderfully depicted in this DVD. Until this DVD mentioned the waffles I had completely forgotten about them.
I really don't know what the bad reviewers expected from this DVD; no one at the 1964 World's Fair Corporation had the foresight to make their own documentary at the time (aside from one short promotional film) so the producers who made this one had to use what home movies and corporate films that were available, 36+ years after the fact. I for one think they did a great job and I think they deserve a lot of credit.
This one is well worth checking out.
Don't buy it
J. Sylvia | 12/29/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I was expecting to see the 1964 World's Fair, instead I heard only people talking about the World's Fair. You only see the outside of the Buildings. If you like to hear people TALK about the World's fair and see home movies of people talking about the World's fair then by all means buy it but if you are expecting to see the rides , etc. don't waste your money. We were very disappointed."
The 1964 World's Fair
T. Clark | Richmond | 05/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great memories. Many home movies combined into one DVD. I went to the World's Fair 18 times in 1964 and saw myself walking along in this DVD!"