Do you ever wonder what happened to the World’s Fair? We don’t hear too much about them anymore. But those massive international events that seemed to define multicultural progression and optimism in the twentieth century aren’t exactly gone – it’s just America’s involvement in them that is (the last World’s Fair that was held on American soil was in New Orleans in 1984). It’s sad and unfortunate that our culture doesn’t concern itself too much anymore with global events meant to bring us together to celebrate and learn about our differences instead of letting them divide us. But, as with just about anything, we can look to the past to help us plan our future.
Expo 67 Mission Impossible tells the exciting, emotion-driven story of Montreal’s Expo 67, from its inception to its closing day. The documentary, made by French Canadians Eric Ruel, Guylaine Maroist, and Michel Barbeau, features images and video from Library and Archives Canada. The film is a marvellous time capsule that spotlights the style and spirit of the late ‘60s, a fascinating look at mid-century “continental” culture (fans of Mad Men, you must see this film). But alongside relishing in ‘60s mod/space age style, this film tells an important and inspiring story. The expo’s theme, Man and His World, symbolized building bridges to bring mankind together.
Expo 67 was a World’s Fair that almost wasn’t. Underdogs from the start, the organizers were faced with formulating and executing the entire thing in only four years instead of the estimated twelve that it should have taken. It was an incredibly impressive feat, knowing all that went into the planning of the expo – they had to actually build islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, for Pete’s sake! What’s surprising about this film is that it takes the viewer on an unexpected emotional journey through the ups and downs of the challenges Expo 67’s designers, developers, and engineers went through, and it’s presented in such a way that even though you know that the expo did indeed happen (successfully, even), you are on the edge of your seat wondering if they’ll get it done in time.
The documentary features delightful interviews with some of the women and men working behind the scenes at Expo 67, which is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this film. Seeing the absolute joy on their faces and hearing it in their voices when remembering how the expo came to be and what a success it was is very inspiring. This film evokes such optimism – it makes you feel as if you’re capable of achieving any goal you may have: all you have to do is hunker down and persevere.
And that’s what the World’s Fair is really supposed to be about: people of the world, of all cultures, working together to reach a common goal and understanding. After watching this documentary film, it’s clear that the world (America included) might benefit from coming together in such a big way again.