Saturday, June 7, 2014

Expo 67 : Man & His World (1967)

In this British-made documentary is one person's impression on Montreal's world's fair, called Expo 67, with the theme of "Man and His World." Or in French, "Terre des Hommes." It opened on April 21, 1967 and closed on October 27, 1967; there were 90 pavilions, including  the U.S. pavilion, a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller; and Habitat 67, an urban modular housing complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie. [I noticed one error in this video; the capital of the province of Quebec has always been Quebec City and not Montreal, its largest city.]

I was born in Montreal, and at school we talked about it and learned the theme song ("Hey Friend, Say Friend/Un Jour, Un Jour", written by Stéphane Venne) and a popular jingle written by Bobby Gimby ("Ca-na-da"). Thus it was natural that we all wanted to explore the site. I was nine when my family attended this fair (we went on a number of occasions), a homage to man's many achievements; the fair was without a doubt a success, with more than 50 million visitors from around the world attending, a feather in the cap of then-mayor Jean Drapeau, who always had big dreams and carried them to fruition.

As for the fair's theme, it originated from a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Terre des Hommes (1939); and as Wikipedia reports it, citing Gabrielle Roy's 30 page commissioned essay on the fair, it is about human cooperation, still a noble idea in needing of work:
In Terre des Hommes, his haunting book, so filled with dreams and hopes for the future, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes of how deeply moved he was when, flying for the first time by night alone over Argentina, he happened to notice a few flickering lights scattered below him across an almost empty plain. They "twinkled here and there, alone like stars."

.... In truth, being made aware of our own solitude can give us insight into the solitude of others. It can even cause us to gravitate towards one another as if to lessen our distress. Without this inevitable solitude, would there be any fusion at all, any tenderness between human beings.
Moved as he was by a heightened awareness of the solitude of all creation and by the human need for solidarity, Saint-Exupéry found a phrase to express his anguish and his hope that was as simple as it was rich in meaning; and because that phrase was chosen many years later to be the governing idea of Expo 67, a group of people from all walks of life was invited by the Corporation to reflect upon it and to see how it could be given tangible form.
—Gabrielle Roy
Isn't this the basis of humanity, the need for cooperation?

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