Pan-American Exposition by Night (1901)    2 Stars


Director: Edwin S. Porter

Synopsis: A great feature of the Pan-American Exposition, as unanimously conceded by all visitors, was the electric illumination of the Exposition grounds at night.





Edison cameramen took advantage of the spectacle of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York to try out a few experimental shots, one of which was the short movie, Pan-American Exposition by Night. It starts out as a standard panoramic shot of the grounds by day. Panoramas were already common by 1901, and this one is nothing spectacular. The place is virtually deserted, although the buildings are quite impressive. Eventually, the camera settles upon the Electric Tower and there is a cut from day to night-time. The effect is quite well-done, especially as the exteriors of the buildings are lit by thousands of light bulbs at night. Ironically, the Exposition is chiefly remembered today for being the location at which President McKinley was fatally shot by Leon Czolgosz a month before the film was shot. Ironically, an operation to remove the bullet that was carried out at the exposition’s emergency hospital was hampered by the fact that, despite the thousands of lights on display at the show, there was no electric lighting inside the hospital, so doctors had to use a pan to reflect sunlight onto the operating table on which they worked on the wounded President.

(Reviewed by 10th September 2014)