American Experience: Coney Island

American Experience: Coney Island

5.0 1
Director: Ric Burns

Cast: Ric Burns

     
 

The emergence of American mass culture is intimately connected to the history of Coney Island. From the mid-1800s, New York's Coney Island emerged as a playland where the fabulous and fantastic met. Coney Island is Ric Burns' loving documentary about a unique time and place in American history where both the hot dog and the roller coaster were invented. TheSee more details below

Overview

The emergence of American mass culture is intimately connected to the history of Coney Island. From the mid-1800s, New York's Coney Island emerged as a playland where the fabulous and fantastic met. Coney Island is Ric Burns' loving documentary about a unique time and place in American history where both the hot dog and the roller coaster were invented. The largest herd of show elephants, a miniature village of hundreds of midgets, and many fantastic sideshows were all the unique properties of this resort district. An elegant documentary, Coney Island tells the story of the rise and eventual decline of a slice of modern life. ~ Cara Saposnik

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Produced for PBS' American Experience series, Coney Island was Ric Burns' second project independent of his brother Ken and is an astounding historical documentary. It parallels the growth of Coney Island with America's rise to power, from the late 19th century to the present day, divided into four phases: Coney Island's genesis as a day-tripping retreat for New Yorkers; the golden age of the three great theme parks (Dreamland, Steeplechase, and Luna Park); the popularity of the boardwalk per se; and the plummet into ghost-town desolation. Recalled in extraordinary archival images, the energy of the age is palpable: the novelty of electricity, the defiance of gravity, the sexual energy of young patrons, and the rush of the mechanical horses in the Steeplechase. Along with stills, like Weegee photos and promotional materials, the documentary draws on newsreels, Edison's very first kinescopes, comedy shorts, and silent features like King Vidor's The Crowd. While not ignoring the corruption, poverty, exploitation, and hazardous conditions at the parks, Coney Island deals with the darkness beneath the parks' bright surfaces with discretion, resisting the urge to play every clown image for maximum Carnival of Souls eeriness. The narration, both in its writing and frank delivery by Philip Bosco, is illuminating, unobtrusive, and at times almost comically understated. The interviews with historians are similarly succinct. Somewhat less effective are the long-winded ramblings of historical figures like Henry James and Sigmund Freud, read by actors. "Grandpa Munster" Al Lewis, who worked Coney as a boy, emerges as the primary interview subject. His wild hair and broad smile are reminiscent of the Steeplechase's grinning mascot, and he evokes nostalgia for a time when the theme parks, ramshackle and unsafe as they may have been, offered something of the anarchic release that they promised and not the heavily controlled experience they are today.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/21/2006
UPC:
0841887050562
Original Release:
1993
Rating:
NR
Source:
Pbs (Direct)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:00:00
Sales rank:
1,497

Special Features

Closed Caption

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- American Experience: Coney Island
2. Introduction [5:45]
3. Sodom-by-the-Sea [7:16]
4. Escape From Respectibility [3:10]
5. City of Fire [5:27]
6. Luna Park [6:30]
7. Dreamland [6:26]
8. Perfecting the Pleasure Principle [8:26]
9. May 27, 1911 - Dreamland Burns [6:40]
10. The Nickel Empire [9:55]
11. Forever Closed - But Not Forgotten [6:36]
12. Credits [3:16]

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