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Expo - Magic of the White City

Gene Wilder , Mark Bussler  |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Gene Wilder
  • Directors: Mark Bussler
  • Writers: Brian Connelly
  • Producers: Mark Bussler
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Janson Media
  • DVD Release Date: August 18, 2010
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ZYF2XI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,606 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Narrated by Gene Wilder, "Expo - Magic of the White City" brings the Chicago World's Fair to life! Experience the world of 1893 through a cinematic visit to Chicago's Columbian Exposition. Many of the world's greatest achievements in science, technology

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great to see a documentary about this fair September 18, 2005
Format:DVD
If you have only read "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson and want to see and know more about the fair you will be happy with this documentary. If you have read many books about the fair and taken advantage of all the resources at the Paul V. Galvin Library Digital History Collection online you may find yourself wanting more.

The focus of this documentary was mostly a tour of the fair. In recent books on the fair there seems to be either a "horray for progress/wasn't the fair pretty?" or a "damn American imperialism, racism, and sexism" route. The tone of this documentary was neutral/celebratory as it largely omitted discussion of racism and sexism (with only a few passing mentions). There were photos I hadn't seen before, and the narration (Gene Wilder) was superlative.

I do have quibbles with the film, which are most likey not the fault of the creators. See, what I really want is a bigger-budget version of this, full of computer reproductions of the fair so that we can "walk through" it instead of just scenes of a camera panning over a still photograph or painting. The live reinactments were limited to a belly dancer, beer drinking, and the murder of Mayor Harrison. There was also some live footage of fish and animals that the fair goers would have seen, which I am ambivalent about. But don't just tell me that the great pyramid would fit inside the Palace of Manufactures and Liberal Arts, drive the idea home with a little graphic, even a simple one, of the pyramid sitting inside it.

All that said, this was worth every penny and contained a lot of great material which I am bound to watch over and over again.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Documentary of the Year September 16, 2005
Format:DVD
The Columbian Exposition was vast in every way - from the sheer size of its physical location to the number of its visitors to the diversity of its exhibits - yet this film covers it all using a historically responsible and entertaining approach. "EXPO" treats its viewers to a detailed "behind-the-scenes" look into the Exposition with Gene Wilder as a guide. The tour is chock-full of fascinating tidbits, and the period photographs add a whole other dimension that is often absent from texts on the subject. The film truly drops the viewer smack in the middle of the Fair. The quality of the high-definition transfer is stunning, and the picture looks as clear and crisp as a high-definition broadcast. The sound is enveloping and adds depth to the documentary; you actually feel as if you're surrounded by the Fair's bustling crowds. The film is without a doubt satisfying for everyone from the amateur history buff to the well-read historian.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Info but static video June 17, 2009
Format:DVD
Thinking that this film would be a documentary that I could use in teaching economics and U.S. History, I bought it. Well . . . I found it very detailed in terms of explaining the various exhibits and structures, this part of the video I'd give 5 stars to. The rest however, left me hoping the video would come to an end. Gene Wilder, while a fun actor is not the best narrator, he would put a class of teenagers to sleep. The film is very static in that it only uses old photos and artist portrayals with panning in and out of them to tell this story. Then there is the cheesy belly dancer that is put in the video and is about the only thing that moves. This documentary would have been better interviewing Chicago historical society folks, some professors and maybe bringing in the present day site before the end. I was dissappointed in the way this story was presented. Great info for informations sake, but not very good in terms of being watchable.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chicago History January 5, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I found the DVD of the Chicago World's Columbian Expo, 1893, an excellent record of the exposition. I am from Chicago and my great grandfather came to Chicago, from Germany. He was a brick layer in Berlin. Chicago was where the jobs were. I know he was in Chicago when the Columbian Expo was going on. There was very little written about family backgrounds.

My wife's maiden name is Ferris. For generations her family believed they were related to George Washington Ferris, inventor of the Ferris wheel, which was first exhibited at the Chicago Columbian Expo.

Further investigations revealed that the family myths were just that, myths. The DVD gave us a lot of information on the inventions of the day, why the Expo was so popular. As a youth, growing up in Chicago, one of my favorite places was the Museum of Science and Industry. The only building still standing, from the fair. I think that museum may have had a lot of influence on my career. I'm an engineer. Great DVD.

Bob Kozlowski
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely captivating! My kids were transfixed. September 11, 2007
By Quaker
Format:DVD
I received this DVD as a gift last year and have since recommended it to every Chicagoan I know.

Despite having lived in Chicago some years ago, my knowledge of the World's Fair of 1893 was quite limited. I had seen the occassional photo of "Big Mary" and Court of Honor, but was not familiar with the scale and history of the Exposition.

I was advised that my whole family would enjoy this DVD, but my 8- and 11-year olds weren't interested. That is, they weren't until they walked into the room where the documentary was playing. Perhaps it's something about Gene Wilder's voice, or perhaps it's those incredible images, or simply the mystery and romance of a time when electric lights were a magical new phenomenon; but once engaged, they were completely transfixed.

I can't recommend this DVD enough. We all loved it, and it inspired each of us to seek out age-appropriate books related to the 1893 fair (I'm now reading "Devil in the White City" and the kids are reading "Fair Weather").
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Columbian expo experience
Interesting, facinating stuff. A little too many clips with the belly dancer, though. Yes she
was very attractive, but that's overkill. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Michael A. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Great show!. I learned so much about how many great inventions and innovations that arose from this expo. great film1
Published 1 month ago by Slinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Expo - Magic of the White City
I was amazingly surprised at this documentary! It was entertaining and informative. Gene Wilder was a wonderful narrator. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Monica Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it, but I live in Chicago
I have been in Chicago, off and on, since grad school. Hearing stories about the fairs, 1933 and 1893..."White City. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cg Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit dry, but the content is good.
I did not know the history behind The Chicago World's Fair; very interesting. Gene Wilder is a bit dry in his presentation though.
Published 2 months ago by Karen Young
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting history of Chicago Worlds Fair
This was interesting and worth the time. Amazing what was accomplished in such a short time, before all the technical data available today.
Published 2 months ago by Loretta L. Burd
5.0 out of 5 stars I had no idea the White City was so extraordinary.
I read the book, The Devil in the White City - the White City being the description used for the 1893 World's Expo (Chicago World's Fair) because all of its exhibit halls and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by jkb
5.0 out of 5 stars Neat look at an influential world's fair
A very complete look at the Chicago Expo. Where and how it was built, who was there, etc. Although they mostly emphasized the positive and predictive elements of the fair, hey... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Tuomi
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a simple WOW!
What a well done history lesson of the past. Very enjoyable and enlightening with details that will surprise you. Defiantly a must watch!
Published 3 months ago by John Balling
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow
I'm talkin' about SLOOOOOOW ... nicely designed, appealingly narrated by Gene Wilder, but you could get the same content with half an hour on the internet.
Published 3 months ago by Wayne Keyser
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