As for the show itself, there was a lot to like. Seeing the wonderful film clips and stills of the rides, the attractions and the marvelous lights is more than enough reason to see this. Also hearing about some of the seemingly insane exhibits was fascinating. Did you know that at one point they had ethnographic exhibits featuring natives from around the world as well as Midget City to provide merriment and excitement to the masses? Did you know that some of the famous natural disasters and battles were recreated in front of crowds up to 12,000! Did you know that they had a 'leapfrog railway'? And, did you know that for some time the biggest and most successful exhibit was The Incubator--featuring, in total, 8000 premature babies for the public to view!!
Unfortunately, there was one serious problem with the film I really couldn't help but notice. The film abounded with so-called 'purple prose'. In other words, ridiculously worded language that was way out of proportion for the show. The use of words and phrases such as ineffably, realized unconscious of its age, metamorphosed and the like just came off as fake--or like sophisticated people trying to sound better than the masses. And, of all the places, Coney Island is the least appropriate for such elitist language.
By the way, although I've seen the clip a few times, some might be bothered by some actual film footage of an elephant being electrocuted. Just something to think about or skip past. It appears at the 43-44 minute mark.
So my advice is to watch this exciting film...but also realize that there are a lot of fat-heads who cannot communicate in a way that the ordinary person can comprehend OR might laugh at because it comes off, occasionally, as ridiculous. A truly intelligent person does not need to use all this prose to get their point across well.
Coney Island is still there of course, but the Coney depicted in this film ceased to exist long ago. The 20th Century was born at Coney Island and my guess is that pop culture was as well. My only complaint with this film is that it wasn't twice as long. It only whetted my appetite and sent me in search of books on the place. I would have gave this film a 12 if I would have had the option.
If you are familiar with the Burns style of documentaries, you'll see that this work is a masterpiece. A mixture of vintage photos as well as authentic film footage, combined with some great music and well-known voice talents creates a solid piece of history. The best part of this video are the interviews with Al Lewis (better known as Grandpa Munster), who experienced it all firsthand and obviously loved every minute of it. This documentary captivated me at age 18, and now at 33 I still wish that I could have experienced the Island in its heyday one hundred years ago. If you love documentaries, I strongly suggest you pick this one up as soon as possible.
This is well worth digging out and will serve as an accurate representation of a time that now seems so long ago.