Sunday, July 17, 2011

Momentary Change of Pace -- "The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair" (1939)

I've posted the question many times, "Whatever Happened to The Future?" In 1939, the Future did not look all that bright to very many conscientious observers. War-clouds were not just on the horizon, they were gathering over many lands, and the storm was well underway in China, Spain, Ethiopia and elsewhere.

In 1939, the New York World's Fair opened in Flushing Meadows nevertheless, and Americans -- and the World, at least for a brief shining moment -- were allowed to glimpse what the Future could hold for them. This film, made by the Westinghouse Company, features a quasi-conflict between a Leftist Malcontent and the Bright and Shining Capitalist World of abundance and leisure made possible by Westinghouse innovation and persistence. It's actually quite a good exploration of the difference between a collectivist vision and a corporatist one. But few could have realized it at the time.

Little did they know that the world would be plunged into a period of immense bloodshed and destruction, from which only the United States and the Western Hemisphere would emerge more or less unscathed. The world of 1949 would be very different from the world of 1939, so different that many of the concerns and interests of the characters of this film would seem irrelevant or quaint.

Nevertheless, the picture gives a glimpse of the hopes and the dreams -- and the pessimism -- of those who entered the 1940's on a wing and a prayer.

It's worth the time to sit through now, as the peoples of the the United States and the World once again contemplate whatever happened to The Future.

Running time: 55 Minutes

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