Making a New American Nutcracker


Immigrant Labor & Working Women

World’s Fair History with emphasis on immigrants and the women who made the sculpture.

AIRED: November 07, 2017 | 0:02:17

- [Narrator] The World's Fair was truly international.

The Midway, a long stretch on the fair's western edge,

was filled with makeshift villages

where fair-goers could visit indigenous people

from around the world for a small fee.

- If you went down the Midway

where you get the black and brown people,

and the darker Eastern European people,

and you get to this perfect city where everything

and everybody is white.

- [Narrator] The fair was open from May to October of 1893.

Selznick's job was to ensure their new Nutcracker

took place on Christmas Eve.

- So I said to Chris, "We could set it

five months before the fair opens

with the workers who are building the fair."

- [Narrator] One photo caught the team's attention.

- The photograph of this little shack in the middle of

the sort of skeletal structures

of these huge pavilions

- Where some of the workers

must have lived while they were working.

That was the inspiration for the opening scene.

- [Narrator] The fair's mastermind was architect

and city planner Daniel Burnham.

His larger than life achievements still inspire.

- You know architect and planner extraordinaire.

The architect of the day, if you will.

Famous quote, "Make no little plans,

they lack the magic to stir men's blood."

- I thought to myself,

that's who the Drosselmeyer figure can be.

He is the person who's responsible for this magic.

- [Narrator] Selznick named the Burnham-like character

The Great Impresario.

- This production does free itself from that kind of

Germanic model of Drosselmeyer the magician

and kind of fairy tale character

to a more realistic character, still a magician.

- And I think I saw a photograph of some women

who were sculpting for the fair.

And I just looked at it.

I was like, "Well, that's Marie's mom, there she is."

And so the great, golden statue of the woman

with her arms raised, standing on the edge of the lake,

seemed like the right sculpture

for the mother to be working on.


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