Chicago World’s Fair + 1933-1934 home movies

This is a fantastic home movie shot by some amateur tourist to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. From a commenter on the Prelinger Archives board from whence this was ripped:

Amateur films typically have an unusual quality about them. They never seem to linger on a single subject long enough to anything more than to register what it is you are looking at.This film is made up of four reels, each with a particular subject that illustrate this principle. The first reel covers the Chicago World’s Fair. All of the shots are exteriors. Here’s a Chinese gate. Here’s the Hall Of Science. Here’s “The Maestro,” Ben Bernie on stage. Here’s Byrd’s ship to the South Pole. We also occasionally see the makers of this film. They obviously fairly well-off and able to afford these trips during the height of the Depression.

The second reel starts out with some brief shots of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and Mt. Vernon before moving to New York harbor. The majority of the reel features our filmmakers clowning with relatives or friends.

The third reel moves onto The Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, Maine, birthplace of (surprise!) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)

The final reel features a long tracking shot from the back of a train across The Great Salt Lake. The reel ends with the wife standing next to a sign that says “San Francisco Limited” before it fades to black. A fitting end to these disconnected images of trips of unknown people.

I always get a melancholy voyeuristic thrill from watching other people’s home movies. I wonder about their lives, loves, their occupations and how they died. But what really fascinated me about this random movie is how off-putting it is to see these unknown rich folks enjoying life to the fullest while the great majority of folks struggled to survive. While my long past ancestors worked the McCormick demonstration booths at the World’s Fair, others were on extended holiday. My, how times have largely stayed exactly the same…


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