The night before the olympic marathon, characters from the fair and the race collide at a real shooting on the Pike (the entertainment district of the fair). After a false accusation and a night on the lam, we follow one of our protagonists through the fair’s elaborate city by way of a police chase. Running and jumping through the temples of industry and culture, scale model recreations of cities, mountains and villages from around the world, cutting back and forth to the marathon runners literally running for their lives through heat, hills, dogs, dust and an intentional lack of water. There’s cheating and underdogs and underdog performances in both races.
While all this is going on we get a different perspective following our other protagonist as she accompanies presidential daughter and trouble-maker Alice Roosevelt through the fair. We see the cultural exhibits of the fair and the history, present, and future of our country the fair organizers were purporting at the turn of the century. America was trying to reinvent and reunite itself after the civil war, and the popular world fairs at the time were a good way to do it. The fair organizers had brought people and cultures from around the world and literally put them on display for the the fairgoers to point and laugh and feel bolstered and a common pride in feeling superior than the “savages.” What brings people together better than a little Imperialism?
Wrap it up
The characters all convene at the finish line of the Marathon. Cheats are revealed for who they are. White supremacists are taken down a peg. The poor inherit the earth. Love prevails. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve been able to see the incredible world of wonders the Fair built. The cities, people, clothing, and technology of 1904 brought to life in living color on the big (or little, I’m not picky) screen.
This is a work in progress. It was conceived and attempted to be compressed down to a movie. But the quantity of stories that could be told about the Fair and the Olympics might better be told serialized over many installments.
Historic Background: The Marathon & Olympics
Fred was the first to enter the arena at the end of the race, the crowd cheered. He almost accepted the victory wreath before someone pointed out that he rode half the course in a car and just ran in after hopping out at the end. He said it was just a prank.
Hicks’ trainers were kind enough to carry him over the finish line in 1st place. Also nice enough to give him booze, raw eggs, and strychnine. Would have been even nicer if they gave him water.
(see Sullivan below)
Cuban Carvajal raised his own money to get to St. Louis. He got to New Orleans and lost it all in a craps game. He hoofed and hitchhiked and got to the starting line just in time, albeit in plainclothes. Someone cut his shirt and pants and he was off. Considering the conditions, and how few people finished the race, Carvajal did well finishing fourth. Amazing to think how he would have done if he hadn’t fallen ill and slept in an orchard for hours.
Jan & Len
Len Tau and Jan Mashiani are Tswana tribesmen from the Republic of South Africa who fought along with the Boers in the Boer War and then, surprisingly soon after, came to St. Louis to re-enact battles with other soldiers as part of the Boer War attraction in the fair. Len came in 9th place, he probably would have dome much better had wild dogs not chased him a mile off-course.
Director of Physiology at the Fair, Organizer of the Olympic Games, and amateur sociopath. He used the games to conduct experiments of his pseudo-science physiologic beliefs like “purposeful dehydration”. Which is why there was on one watering station on the entire Marathon route.
Weightlifters helped Felix and gave him a place to stay. But honestly, I’m including this just because I love that picture.
(Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Anthropology Days at the Olympics = real racism + pseudo science
Historic Background: The fair
On the Pike
Mysterious Asia attraction
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)